Cuba hits 3 million tourist arrivals in 2015

Posted: 20-Nov-15 12:23

Recently released statistics from the Cuban Ministry of Tourism reveal that there's an increasingly growing interest among travellers in visiting the country after the Cuban government agreed to restore diplomatic relationships with the U.S. In the last 11 months the island received 18% more visitors than the total of arrivals in the same period in 2014.

Cuba hits 3 million tourist arrivals in 2015

Last December 2014 Cuba reached the yearned figure of 3 million tourist arrivals, which was considered a great achievement and a positive sign for the national economy. But in the present year, the country surpassed this mark 45 days earlier, giving evidence of a fast and continuous growth in the tourism sector.

The announcement was made on 16th November, coinciding with the anniversary of the foundation of Havana, one of the most important touristic destinations in the country. Authorities from the Cuban Ministry of Tourism indicated that this result is closely linked to the “new situation the country is experiencing”.

This new scenario is heavily marked by new governmental approaches between Cuba and the United States after more than 50 years of hostility. Since December 2014, when Barack Obama and Raúl Castro announced the strategic diplomatic shift, many travellers have been rushing to see the Caribbean country, assuming that this political process and its economic consequences can leave indelible footprints in the socialist nation and erase some of its nostalgic and authentic appeal.

MINTUR representatives also pointed out that Cuba is gaining recognition in the international arena “for the work undertaken by sector institutions responsible for continually improving the island’s tourist product and raising the quality of services”.

As tourism is one of the most important sectors of the Cuban economy, investments in this area are prioritised. During the XXXVI International Fair of Havana (FIHAV) that took place earlier this month, the Cuban Ministry for Foreign Investments launched a portfolio containing more than 90 projects for attracting external capital to the tourism industry.

In addition, public representatives acknowledged the positive implications in the industry of tourism of non-state workers -also called self-employed and “cuentapropistas”- who provide a myriad of services to foreign visitors. On June 2015, more than a half a million people in the island were working in the private sector.

The “natural hospitality with which Cuban’s receive all those who visit the island”, was also mentioned by the Ministry of Tourism in its report on the industry´s growth.

Canada remains at the top of the list of countries sending tourists to Cuba, with more than 1.11 million, a 13 per cent increase over the previous year.

European nations follow Canada in the list of major tourist markets for the island. Germany, Britain, France and Spain (in that order) are the top source of visitors from the European continent. Together those markets alone contributed to a 25 percent increase of holidaymakers arriving to Cuba.

On another note, the number of tourists from Latin America that travelled to Cuba in 2015 also grew considerably - by 20 per cent overall in comparison with the previous year.

Given the figures, Cuba is surpassing other tourist destinations in Latin America, like Costa Rica, which receives about 2 million tourists each year. For 2016 the Cuban government is planning to open more than 13,600 rooms in “sun and beach destinations” across the nation with the construction of new hotel properties across various of the country's most desired tourist hotspots. Of these the one most immediately opening will be the Pullman Cayo Coco which is accepting bookings from 1st February 2016.

For this year, authorities expect the tourism sector to generate a revenue of around 3 billion US dollars, a prediction that can be quiet relied on as so far reality this year seems to have surpassed expectations. Earlier on we had reported on how the tourism industry in Cuba had outdone itself already by the first quarter of 2015.


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