Marriott eyes up Cuba as potential growth market
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Marriott eyes up Cuba as potential growth market

Legendary luxury hotelier Marriott International has its sights set on Cuba. The company is planning a renovation of the country’s Hotel Inglaterra, the historic property based on the fringes of Old Havana, but it’s not stopping there. Time Sheldon, Marriott’s president of the Caribbean & Latin America region, said: “Havana is a great place to start, but we are looking all over Cuba.” Of course, the extent to which Marriott decides to penetrate the country’s hospitality market will, in part, be driven by President Trump’s new Cuba policy.

Marriott’s share price has risen by 23% so far this year

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SOURCE: Yahoo Finance

Marriott’s interest in Cuba is understandable when you consider its apparent popularity with tourists. In the first six months of this year, the country saw 2.67 million international travellers opt for a stay within its borders, and experts expect 2017 as a whole to blow the previous year out of the water. Not that last year was a slow one for Cuba: the country saw a record number of tourists in 2016, 4.1 million.

According to Sheldon, Marriott has a couple of projects in mind for the Cuban market. However, he declined invitations to discuss them specifically, saying instead that the company was “waiting for clarity from the current administration” before embarking on new ventures.

Marriott, which will have more than 250 hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean by the end of 2017, only has a small Cuban portfolio so far. And it acquired that somewhat unintentionally, through its acquisition of Starwood. However, the company now sees Cuba as a potential avenue through which to pursue growth. It is just the politics they’re waiting on.

With the latest update to U.S. and Cuba relations coming in late June, when Mr. Trump tightened restrictions on who could go to Cuba (from the U.S., obviously), and what they could do while they were there, Marriott may end up playing a long game.

Disclosure

Dominion holds Marriott International in its Global Trends Luxury Fund.


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