Cuba’s Las Terrazas Complex spans 5,000 hectares in the eastern reaches of the Sierra del Rosario UNESCO biosphere reserve, in the Candelaria municipality of the province of Artemisa. The area is traversed by several rivers, including the San Juan and Bayate rivers, and boasts natural pools of fresh, crystalline water. Situated in the area are the colonial-style Hotel Moka; the Casa del Lago, located on the shore of Lake San Juan; and the Ecological Research Centre, responsible for overseeing the well-being of forest ecosystems. The local community’s rich cultural life is showcased to visitors through workshops that specialize in painting, serigraphy (screen printing), ceramics, woodwork and plant fibres.
The Las Terrazas Complex was created in 1994 as a tourism-based sustainable rural development project, giving continuity to the country’s Integral Development Plan, initiated in 1968. The Complex aims to rehabilitate and preserve the area’s environmental integrity through the reforestation of terraces, while achieving a balance between the local population and the environment. Since the founding of the Las Terrazas community, tourism has been their main source of livelihood through the Las Terrazas Complex. It is considered Cuba’s first eco-museum, serving as a national and international reference point. It strives not only to incorporate tourism as an economic facilitator, but also to ensure social and environmental sustainability through responsible tourism. This prevents negative socio-environmental impacts while creating links between tourism and the community, thus guaranteeing tourism’s compatibility with social development.