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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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FIHAV'2000: Cuba's Economy Promotes Its Attractions

The Cuban economy, embarked in consolidating its recovery, is promoting its attractions to foreign investors, in an effort to find partners that can contribute their technology and capital to carry out joint projects.

According to official statistics, over 380 joint ventures have been set up with foreign firms on the largest Antillean Island, in addition to a market diversification that includes trade relations with 150 countries.

Havana's International Fair (FIHAV'2000), which was attended by representatives of 63 countries, provided domestic firms an excellent opportunity to close deals with foreign companies.

First held in the 1980s at its permanent venue in the PABEXPO exhibition hall, and attended by barely a dozen countries, the fair rapidly became a major forum in Cuba, due to foreign investors' growing interest in taking advantage of business opportunities on the largest Antillean Island.

Over the past few years, the fair has been held at EXPOCUBA, whose 25,000 square meters were insufficient to meet the needs of participants at its 18th edition in 2000.

Nearly 2,000 firms, including 500 Cuban companies, exhibited their products and services to experts who attended the fair every day in search of better options to close deals and set up alliances, joint ventures and cooperated productions in many sectors of the Island's economy.

The most attractive sectors are mining, especially oil, and tourism, which has become the fastest-growing area in Cuba's economy, although other fields such as real estate, textiles, agriculture and industry also attract many foreign investors.

As a novelty, the service sector is gaining ground in such areas as advisory, consultancy, projects and financial management, all of which has been generated by a large business portfolio that is already operating in the country and requires a wide coverage to back up operations.

Every year, new countries take part for the first time at the fair. On this occasion, the newcomers were Malaysia, Ghana, Gambia and Armenia. Japan and Portugal had their official pavilions for the first time in this kind of event, at which the former was represented by 13 companies, and the latter by 111 firms.

In addition, the most represented countries at the fair were Spain, Italy, Canada and Mexico, all of which are among Cuba's major trading partners and top the list of major investors in the largest Antillean Island.

There are many reasons why foreign entrepreneurs are interested in investing in Cuba. Among them are the huge potential of the Island's market (11 million consumers), the domestic economy's high technological demand, and the facilities provided by Cuban authorities to foreign investors.

However, Cuba's geographic situation is the key factor, since the Island provides an easy access to the Caribbean, Central America and South America. Another important element is the country's social stability, which facilitates the development of investments.

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