OBMI Discusses Resiliency & Sustainable Tourism in Cuba
Resilient design received much attention from hospitality industry and Cuban leaders during the industry’s first major investment conference focused on tourism growth in Cuba. This week, the South American Hospitality Investment Conference brought together more than 250 government and hospitality leaders from 25 countries to discuss the island’s potential and strategies for increased tourism demand.
As part of a panel on Sustainability and Resilient Design, OBMI Managing Director Liora Haymann addressed the many challenges associated with growing a tourism product in island nations. Her presentation focused on the need for Cuba to develop a comprehensive, long-term development strategy for sustainable tourism that grows the nation’s tourism product, preserves the rich Cuban heritage, and protects historical and environmental sites. She highlighted parallels to sustainable tourism plans her team completed for other Caribbean nations that have resulted in substantial investment and development dollars, such as that developed for Antigua, which resulted in more than a billion dollars in investment.
The panel also discussed the need for hospitality providers to develop contingency plans for a hotel’s operational needs: electricity production, fresh water filtration, and even alternative food solutions. Alongside Monica Cuervo of WATG, Liora shared experiences in resort design for resiliency in tropical environments. Both architects discussed the need for Caribbean resorts to include power generation options like solar electricity, desalination and water collection solutions, as well as on-site organic farming options to help mitigate the challenges they face due to Cuba’s sensitive environments and geographic locations.
“Resiliency is really about being able to recover from difficult situations. In the Caribbean, there are any number of events that can require resilience planning. Therefore, as designers we must anticipate and plan for a hotel’s response to them. I am heartened by the attention Cuba is placing on planning for sustainable tourism and long-term resiliency,” Liora later commented.
Other topics covered during the two-day event were technology and connectivity, doing business in the country, and case studies from brands that are already successfully operating hotels on the island.