Unlike the U.S., the country of Qatar understands the tourism potential of Cuba. The state's investment firm, Qatari Diar, this week signed a deal with Cuba to build a $75-million luxury hotel on Cayo Largo, an island off Cuba's southwestern coast. Construction on the 250-room property begins next year, with opening scheduled for 2012.
It doesn't take a genius, or a country with the natural gas resources of Qatar, to realize that someday soon—not next year perhaps, but certainly in the next decade—Cuba will be the big hot spot for U.S. tourists, once the stupid, counterproductive travel ban on most travel to the island from the U.S is rescinded. President Obama is moving in the right direction, recently easing restrictions on Cuban Americans who want to visit their homeland. But more needs to be done and quickly.
It's time again for every citizen, and particularly those in the tourism industry, to lobby any elected official they can find to make this happen.
When 2015 rolls around, I don't want to plan a trip to Cuba with my wife and only be able to choose resorts owned by companies based in Qatar, Spain or Canada.