Dec. 31 (UPI) -- The Cuban capital of Havana, which will celebrate the 500-year anniversary of its founding in November, is expecting large infrastructure investment in hotels, the Cuban official newspaper Granma said Monday.
"The opening of more lodging to satisfy higher requirements is necessary," said Manuel Marrero, Cuba's Tourism minister.
New construction and remodeling has been made easier "through a new business modality in the hotel administration and commercialization contracts where financing is included," the report said.
Havana, which will also host the International Tourism Fair in May, plans to soon open a total of 12 hotels and add another 1,121 rooms that are currently out of service.
Plans are underway to remodel the Tarara and Hemingway marinas, as well as upgrade the Capdevila golf area.
More discos, bars and night restaurants are also planned, with renovations of existing eateries.
Granma did not provide a figure for the investments. But China's Xinhua news agency quoted Marrero in September as saying that Chinese companies are investing about $700 million in the "construction of new, high-standard hotels and the development of other tourism projects."
Cuba was set to end 2018 with a record 4.8 million visits, up from 4.7 million in the previous year. Most visitors are from Canada, the United States and Europe, the report said.
While Chinese tourist visits were still relatively small at about 46,000 annually, Cuban officials were working to increase the number by trying to get direct flights from Beijing to Havana.