Cuba, with eye on golf, liberalizes land law

Reuters: HAVANA, CUBA – The cash-strapped Cuban government will allow foreign investors to use state-owned land for up to 99 years in a change that is likely to bring developments of luxury golf courses to the communist island.

The new law, published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, was said to be aimed at “facilitating the process of participation of foreign investment in international tourism”by giving “greater security and guarantee to the foreign investor in the real estate business.”

Cuban authorities have said that a dozen or so golf developments are under consideration as they seek ways to boost tourist revenues for the fragile economy.

Before the legal change, which was decreed in July but not announced until Thursday, Cuban law permitted use of state lands for 50 years. Most land in Cuba belongs to the government.

Foreign investors who have proposed the golf developments say the 99-year limit is necessary to attract buyers and make their projects, which will feature course-side homes, financially viable.

Cuba, which discouraged the sport after the 1959 revolution, has only two golf courses.

Cuba attracted about 2.4 million tourists last year, and is hoping golf will bring wealthier visitors to the island.

Officials are also planning for the day when the United States, 90 miles (145 km) away, ends its longstanding ban on travel to Cuba.

Legislation is pending in the U.S. Congress that would lift the ban that is part of the 48-year-old U.S. trade embargo against Cuba.

President Raul Castro has undertaken various reforms to improve the Cuban economy, with the goal of ensuring the survival of the communist system installed after the revolution that put his older brother Fidel Castro in power.

Earlier this month, he told the national parliament that the government would grant more licenses for people to operate small businesses.

In another decree published in the Official Gazette on Thursday, the government said it would allow small-time private vendors to sell agricultural products from roadside stands.

The concept has been in use in some parts of the country since last year, but now is official national policy.


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One Response to Cuba, with eye on golf, liberalizes land law

  1. Pingback: The Golf Blog » Cuba, with eye on golf, liberalizes land law « particularcuba cuba …

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