VINALES, Cuba, May 14 (Xinhua) -- The green and fascinating countryside scenery of the Vinales Valley in western Cuba draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.
As Cuba seeks to receive 5 million visitors this year, the small town of Vinales aims to attract more tourists to enjoy natural scenery and outdoor activities.
"This country is known for its beautiful and paradisiacal beaches, blue waters, but this type of tourism is not well-known and there are really many opportunities in this destination," Joss Stone, a British tourist, told Xinhua.
"This destination is truly beautiful, many interesting landscapes and an exciting experience was to go inside several very old caves through a boat," said Stone.
One of the main attractions of Vinales are its geological values as the karstic mountain-like mogotes can only be seen in this place throughout the island country.
"Vinales is the oldest geological place in Cuba, it still has sites where fossils can be found, (and) more than 300 caves and caverns," Ricardo Alvarez, a historian in Vinales said.
The Vinales Vallley has been listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization since 1999.
The quality of this cultural landscape is enhanced by the vernacular architecture of its farms and villages, and its style, crafts and music illustrate Cuba's social and cultural development.
"It's my second time in Vinales and it's a wonderful destination. I came with my husband to spend two days here because we like nature tourism a lot," said Jennifer Reids, a tourist from Canada.
The couple decided to visit the valley once again as they love hiking, horseback riding and excursions to places of natural beauty.
One of those spectacular limestone elevations that attracts foreign and local visitors is the Prehistorical Mural, one of the largest open-air frescoes on the planet.
"It depicts the evolution of life on earth from curious details, findings, fossil remains of dinosaurs and is a mural that is 80 m high and 120 m wide that was painted with fine brushes," said Alvarez.
Last year, Vinales received a record high of over 612,000 tourists which has boosted the local economy and the quality of the local residents' lives.
"Tourism has been positive because this was a quiet and poor town but now the standard of living has changed, houses have been improved," said Osmany Rodriguez, a farmer in Vinales. "Many people have their own businesses (of) renting rooms, (and) providing tours or restaurants."