Varadero, Cuba, May 2 (EFE).- Cuba is implementing measures to develop sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism, Science, Technology and Environment Minister Elba Rosa Perez said Monday.
The efforts include the demolition of permanent structures on beach dune areas and expanding the amount of shaded area along the beaches and in public spaces, Perez added during a speech at a tourist event in Varadero, the communist island’s main sun and beach tourism mecca.
The event was the prelude to the International Tourism Fair (FitCuba), to be held from Tuesday through May 7 at the well-known seaside resort community.
Perez said that Cuba has much “potential” for developing sustainable tourism, but she acknowledged that assorted issues are pending such as how to put in place photovoltaic solar panels on roofs and at parking garages and how to develop bioclimatic architecture.
At the event on sustainable tourism, which was also attended by Cuban Prime Minister and Tourism Minister from 2004-2019, Manuel Marrero, Perez acknowledged the importance of the sector for the country’s economic development.
She said that the measures being taken to make progress toward the “novel concept” of sustainability are part of the government plan titled “Tarea Vida,” a strategy launched in 2017 to mitigate the effects of climate change on the Caribbean island.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, tourism was the second biggest sector in the Cuban economy, after professional service sales abroad, and it contributed about 10 percent of the country’s GDP.
It also employed approximately half a million people in the state-run portion of the sector and a very high percentage of private sector workers.
After the economic shutdown due to the pandemic, Cuba reopened itself to the inflow of foreign visitors last November and is forecasting that the tourism sector will gradually recover.
The government expects to welcome 2.5 million international visitors in 2022 and to take in some $1.159 billion.
Cuban authorities have not modified these forecasts despite the spread of the Omicron variant of the coronavirus and the consequences of the war in Ukraine, which has severely reduced Russian tourism to the island.