HAVANA, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Cuba aims to continue its current unprecedented tourism boom and boost foreign investment in the sector, as part of making the island one of the most important tourism destinations in Latin America, a senior tourism official said on Wednesday.
At a press conference, Maria del Carmen Orellana, marketing director for the Ministry of Tourism, announced that Cuba would be hosting the 37th Cuba International Tourism Fair (FITCuba 2017) from May 3-6 in pursuit of these goals.
Orellana said the event will take place in the eastern province of Holguin -- the island's fourth largest tourism destination, and that Germany would be featured as the guest country.
"We are in an excellent moment to host the fair as we are experiencing a sustained increase in visitors. The event represents an important way to expose our portfolio of investments and destinations to tour operators from all over the world," she said.
The official said holding the fair in Holguin, around 800 kilometers east of Havana, is a strategic choice. Holguin offers broad tourism appeal, with pristine beaches, an enchanting natural setting and active cultural life.
"FITCuba is the most important tourism marketing event in the country. We want to highlight the benefits of this destination with beaches such as Guardalavaca, Esmeralda and Pesquero as well as the important cultural life of the province," she added.
The fair will open on May 3 with a speech by Cuban tourism minister, Manuel Marrero, regarding the industry and its perspectives. For three days, professional exchanges and business talks will take place between travel agencies, tour operators and airlines.
Orellana said the fair will be dedicated to Germany as that country is a regular source of tourists to Cuba, with air connections and total visits increasing.
"More than 240,000 German tourists visited Cuba last year. Most of these traveled to more than one destinations in the country," explained the tourism official.
A total of 4.2 million tourists are projected to travel to Cuba this year and the island is focusing on consolidating traditional markets such as Canada, France, Spain and Britain.
Likewise, Orellana highlighted the continued increase of U.S. visitors. Although they are still officially banned from coming to the island as regular tourists, there is a notable growth in cruise ship tourism.
American cruise companies, Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian Cruise Lines and Pearl Seas along with others from Spain, Russia and Great Britain are currently operating in Havana and other cities in the country.
The tourism industry is a crucial source of revenue for the Cuban government, after medical and professional services.