By Raul Menchaca
HAVANA, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- Cuban authorities are making big efforts to recover the tourism industry, the most dynamic sector of the island's economy, which was seriously hit by the devastating hurricane Irma a week ago.
Irma is considered one of the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic and lashed Cuba' s north coast from the eastern tip to Havana in the west, a route along which the main tourist destinations in the country are located.
Officials from the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) told the press that resorts have reported major architectural damage, including broken roofing, ceilings, lights and windows.
The hurricane wreaked havoc on the hotel infrastructure of the Jardines del Rey, Santa María, Guillermo and Coco Keys, located north of the central provinces of Villa Clara and Ciego de Ávila.
Some 5,000 foreign tourists have been evacuated to the Varadero resort, about 140km east of Havana, which was less affected by the storm.
Following the passage of Irma, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero toured the battered archipelago and remarked that all the damage was completely recoverable.
Before the imminent beginning of the high tourism season, which runs from November to April, Marrero said that even the most severely damaged places, such as the Jardines del Rey airport, will be fully recovered.
In Havana, coastal flooding caused a severe impact. 18 hotels in the city were evacuated, with tourists evacuated to the Memories Jibacoa resort, east of the capital.
A tourism official in Havana, Xonia Beltrán, said that some lightly damaged facilities would be ready to welcome back guests in time.
Beltrán highlighted the Havana hotels away from the coast remained active while Irma lashed the island and guaranteed the protection of guests.
She added that Havana's international airport resumed full operations on Tuesday and explained that travel agencies are reviewing the itineraries of tourism circuits departing from Havana to guarantee other available destinations to travelers.
Tourism is the most dynamic sector of the battered Cuban economy and in 2016, the Caribbean island reached a record of 4.5 million foreign visitors.
Officials expect to reach 4.7 million foreign visitors this year.