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As Cuba gears up for increased tourism numbers, the communist country is bulking up its tourist infrastructure to accommodate the recent spur in visitors from the United States and beyond. By 2024, Cuba’s cruise ship terminal will be able to hold three times as many boats as it can today.
The terminal expansion project is part of a 15-year management agreement with Global Ports Holding Plc, an Istanbul-based company that operates 14 cruise ports, including Havana. This will be the company’s first venture in the Americas. Global Ports plans to add an extra four berths at the terminal, which would allow for six ships to dock at once.
Havana’s tourism numbers have grown exponentially in the past couple years. 2017 saw a 156% increase in cruise ship passengers from 2016. Cuba is hoping for a whopping 500,000 cruise passengers in 2018.
The Caribbean cruise market is the largest in the world and brings about 9.6 million passengers to the region. The cruise industry was initially nervous when President Trump placed travel restrictions that barred American tourists from visiting hotels and restaurants run by Cuba’s communist government. But the cruise industry soon realized that the restriction was actually in their favor, pushing visitors to stay and eat on board.
Once the new terminal has been completed, Global Ports believes that it should be able to accommodate more than 1 million passengers annually. Carnival, Norwegian Cruises, Royal Caribbean have all added trips to Cuba, even after Trump’s most recent travel restrictions there.
In May 2016, Carnival became the first US cruise liner to dock in Cuba in more than 50 years. This month, Carnival announced 23 new routes to Cuba, including one route for its 3,000-passenger Carnival Sunshine. When it docks in Cuba, it will be the largest ship to have ever sailed there.
Image by Marjie Lambert/Miami Herald/TNS via Getty Images
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