HCM City, Cuba join hands in tourism development hinh anh 1The Ho Chi Minh delegation visits a primary school named after Ho Chi Minh in Havana. (Source: sggp.org.vn)

Hanoi (VNA) - The Tourism Department of Ho Chi Minh City and Cuba’s Tourism Ministry, along with travel businesses of both sides have inked cooperation deals aiming to create a legal foundation for organising tours to the Caribbean nation, according to Sai Gon Giai phong newspaper.

The documents, which were signed during a visit to Cuba from May 31 to June 7 by a delegation from Ho Chi Minh City, will also assist Vietnamese businesses which want to build hotels and resorts in Cuba.

The Cuban side will also take part in tourism promotion activities and international tourism events in HCM City.

At a working session with Cuban Deputy Tourism Minister Louis Sanchez during the visit, head of the HCM City delegation - Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong briefed his host on the city’s socio-economic development, as well as potential for tourism cooperation between Cuba and the Vietnamese city.

Sanchez said 2017 was a record year for Cuba’s tourism sector as the country welcomed more than 4 million visitors, up 16.8 percent year-on-year, earning 3 billion USD.

Over the past decade, thanks to investments in tourism, Cuba has tripled its market share in the Caribbean region, the minister said.

He stressed that Cuba is said to have potential to become the second biggest tourist destination in Central America, after Mexico, with the number of holidaymakers forecast to amount to 12 million in the next few years.

To serve the booming sector, Cuba aims to build 103,000 rooms and develop more services by 2030, according to the official.

Sanchez expressed his hope that following the visit, HCM City will invest in many projects in Cuba, besides the two existing tourism projects of Vietnam.

While in Cuba, the HCM City delegation was received by Jose Ramon Balaguer, Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba (CPC) Central Committee and head of the CPC Central Committee’s Department of External Relations.

Phong informed his host about outcomes of his working sessions over the past days, especially the conference to promote trade, investment and tourism ties between HCM City and Cuba.

The two sides talked about Party building and exchanged experience in economic reform and development.

The Vietnamese delegation also made a trip to Mariel, Cuba’s first special economic zone established in 2014.

Located in Artemisa province, about 45km east of the Cuban capital city of Havana, the 465.4 sq.km zone features seaports, industrial parks, urban areas and tourism facilities.

Mariel has licensed 35 projects valued at 1.2 billion USD, including two from Vietnamese firms – the Thai Binh Investment and Trading Corporation and the Viglacera Corporation.

During the trip, the participating businesses from HCM City raised questions on the issuance of land use right certificates, land lease duration, tax preferences and priority projects.

The delegation also visited a primary school named after Ho Chi Minh in Havana and a village named after Vietnam’s Ben Tre province in Artemisa province.-VNA