SAHICThe inaugural Conference SAHIC Cuba designed to promote the hotel, tourism and related real estate businesses in the island nation took place in Havana, Cuba, May 15-16, 2017. After two full days of activities, the event proved to be ‘the’ place to provide the 225 attendees from 24 countries with new opportunities to expand their network while learning where the industry is heading in the continually emerging Cuba.

“We are so excited because the idea is to put together people from all over the world with the key decision makers from Cuba who will be their partners; to conduct business here, you need a Cuban partner,” said Arturo Garcia Rosa, President and founder of SAHIC. “The Cuban executives are absolutely open to share the information  and  identify successful partners for future projects.”

During his keynote address, David Scowsill, President and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council shared global and regional trends and outlooks for the hotel and tourism industry. Mr Scowsill mentioned that “executives must stand up and lead the industry, take responsibility with real commitment for change”.

In the framework of the conference, the renowned Cuban historian Eusebio Leal Spengler, recognized worldwide for leading the Restoration Program of Old Havana, was interviewed by Arturo Garcia Rosa, President and founder of SAHIC. “It would not be possible to restore the buildings without social repair projects as well,” said Mr Leal. 

“Nearly 90 per cent of tourists to Cuba want to see Havana. And not only do they want to see the cities but they want to meet our people. Not everything will be turned into hotels. It’s important to integrate schools and art, include the community and bring back the history. We are seeing the facilities being born again.”

Deborah Rivas, Director General of Foreign Investment, Ministry of Commerce and Foreign Affairs of Cuba, shared the options for structuring a foreign investment in Cuba and the processes that must be carried out to obtain business permits and the required licenses.

Francisco Camps Orfila, Cuba Deputy Director for Melia Hotels International, and Mateo Caldentey Llull, Delegate in Cuba for Iberostar Hotels & Resorts were interviewed by Fernando Garcia-Chacon from JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group. During the conversation, the executives of both foreign companies discussed the process of finding the right local partner and what is important to consider before making the final decision about investing, developing and operating in Cuba.

Among the governmental officials who spoke to the attendees were:

o   Alexis Trujillo, Vice Ministro Primero of Tourism of Cuba;

o   Luis Miguel Diaz Sanchez, Vice Minister of Tourism of Cuba;

o   Ivet Caballero Roque, Deputy Commercial Director, National Port Administration;

o   Jesus Lacera Linde, Executive Secretary Project Front, Ministry of Construction;

o   Deborah Rivas, Director General of Foreign Investment, Ministry of Commerce and Foreign Affairs of Cuba;

o   Jose Daniel Alonso, Director General of Tourism Development, Ministry of Tourism of Cuba.