Cuban tourism booms with record numbers arriving in 2017

Posted: 12-Aug-17 09:11

Cuba has gone from one of the least trodden to one of the world’s most sought after tourist destinations in a matter of years, with 3 million tourists arriving in the last seven months alone. And the estimation is that nearly 5 million visitors will have set foot on the island by the end of 2017.

Cuban tourism booms with record numbers arriving in 2017

It’s no secret that one of the Caribbean’s least visited islands has been catapulted to the global holiday hotlist in recent years, but the numbers would even surprise experts in the travel trade.

Following the easing of travel and trade embargoes that had prevented American citizens from visiting Cuba for well over half a century, a decision made by former-president Barack Obama during his second term in the Oval Office, the amount of people who are heading for Havana and other destinations found on the tropical paradise has been rising exponentially. The impact of this newfound freedom cannot be understated.

By the end of July, Cuban had seen some 3 million foreigners land within its borders, looking to soak up some sun, experience the country’s unique culture, and – more than likely – try some of its famed rum, and possibly a cigar or two. This beats 2016’s figures by over two months, meaning the tourist board has more than surpassed its own expectations. The most common nationalities of visitors have been USA, German, Canadian, Spanish, French, and Italian.

Needless to say, the economic benefits of this touristic boom have been substantial, with more than $1.5billion US pouring into Cuba during the first half of this year – 9% more than the same period 12 months earlier. In total, it’s hoped that 4.7 million visitors will arrive in 2017 overall, which would count as a 16.5% rise compared with 2016 – the first time on record that Cuba broke through the 4 million mark.

Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero is obviously pleased about the news, citing tourism as sustaining its strong improvement as one of the pillars of the national economy, according to a report on Global Times. He has also stated that 2018 should be the year when Cuba manages to attract 5million visitors, suggesting there is a need for an extra 100,000 new hotel rooms to be built by 2030.

It’s not all good news, though, with many fearing that with such rapid development some of the island’s biggest selling points- such as it’s thriving but fragile natural ecosystem, not least in terms of marine life, and truly unique character- could be threatened by the huge increase in tourist traffic. That said, with new US President Donald Trump preparing to re-tighten the rules and regulations concerning American access to Cuba – albeit stopping well short of the old embargo system – it’s about to get much more difficult for those from the States to visit independently, which could in turn bring numbers back down, or at least slow their rise.  

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