HAVANA – Spanish experts in real estate administration and managing vacation rentals gathered Tuesday at a forum in Cuba where they presented their expertise in this field on an island in the midst of a tourism boom, and where both the public and private sectors have their work cut out for them to make a profitable business out of renting accommodations to tourists.
“We have a decades-old tradition in tourism in terms of managing apartments, seasonal rentals and tourist arrivals, so based on that experience the contribution that these Spanish professionals can make is essential for Cuba,” the president of the General Council of Property Administrators of Spain, Salvador Diez, told EFE.
The expert, who took part in the inauguration of the “Seminar on Real Estate Administration in Spain and Cuba” at the University of Havana Law School, said the challenges for the Caribbean country include finding new ways to make properties pay and the widespread need for building restoration.
The idea, Diez said, is “to study these two challenges in depth, to open up a little so more operators get a chance to take part and to analyze other sources of income from real estate properties from the tourism point of view, given the country’s wonderful natural and cultural heritage.”
In Cuba, where the state owns most of the property, hotel revenues also depend on the authorities or on partnering with tourism multinationals, though the authorization of private parties to rent out rooms to tourists is helping to cover the growing demand in the sector.
Furthermore, one fruit of the thaw between the United States and Cuba that began almost two years ago was the entry into the country of the “giant” of private rentals online, Airbnb, but which up to now only allows accommodations on the island to be rented from other countries.
The second aspect about which the experts spoke during the seminar was the restoration of infrastructure.
“We insist on the need to restore buildings. Taking these steps gradually endows cities with improvements that beautify their heritage and also ensure safety for the occupants,” Diez said.
Cuban cities have a rich architectural heritage, but much of it is in a serious state of decay, a situation that the island’s authorities blame on the embargo the United States imposed on the island more than 50 years ago.
The head of the property administrators of Spain promised that the speakers from his country would “contribute their vast experience in restoration.”
“Our country has yet to complete that task, but if we look back historically on the last decade, our cities are nothing like they were 40 or 50 years ago,” he said.