Cuba celebrates record-breaking four million international visitor arrivals in 2016

Posted: 09-Jan-17 10:19

Cuba received more than four million international tourists in 2016, marking an increase of 13 per cent compared to 2015. The numbers indicate a significant rise in visitors from Canada and Europe, as well as the United States, following the eased travel restrictions for U.S residents that came into effect at the end of last year. The island nation also received $1.2 billion dollars from tourism in the first half of 2016.

Cuba celebrates record-breaking four million international visitor arrivals in 2016

The island nation of Cuba recorded more than four million international visitors in 2016. The figures released by the "Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas of Cuba" (Onei), reveal that numbers were up by 13 per cent compared to last year, and there was a significant increase in travellers from Europe and the United States.

The Ministry of Tourism in Havana, Cuba’s capital, said that the nation set a record for international travellers earlier in the year, and it exceeded the target by six per cent. The country is now becoming one of the Caribbean’s most popular tourist destinations.

Tourism is the second largest source of income in Cuba, after exported doctors and professional medical services abroad. According to Onei, in the first half of 2016, the island generated $1.2 billion in revenue from tourism, which is a 15 per cent increase compared to the same period in 2015.

Canada continues to be the leading source market, and main European markets follow closely behind including the UK, Germany, France and Spain. The number of visitors from the United States soared in 2016, as more residents travelled to the Caribbean island, following relaxed travel restrictions by President Obama’s administration and recently resumed diplomatic relations between the two countries.

Cuba currently has 65,000 hotel rooms across the island, there are more than 17,000 rooms in private homes that are rented out to travellers from all over the world. The Cuban government is planning to build 108,000 new rooms by 2030 to keep up with the growing demand of tourists.

Infrastructure in Cuba is still fairly poor, but since the surge in visitor arrivals, plans are now in place to provide more hotels, improve towns and cities, construct new highways, and offer more services to the island from major cities. Several U.S airlines have been given the go-ahead to operate commercial scheduled services to Cuba’s cities from various airports in America. These include Silver Airways, JetBlue, and United Airlines. U.S Cruise liners have also been granted permission to bring passengers to the island, following an overall travel embargo that last more than five decades.

In the first half of 2016, around 137,000 Americans visited Cuba, which was an 80 per cent increase compared to the first six months of 2015. Many U.S companies have been permitted to operate hotels, such as Starwood who opened a Sheraton-branded hotel in Havana last summer.


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