Cuba saw record number of international visitors in 2018

Posted: 29-Dec-18 10:02

Tourism continues to be a major force in Cuba’s economy. The country welcomed a record number of foreign visitors this year, for a total of 4.75 million. The figure represents a 1.3 percent increase over last year.

Cuba saw record number of international visitors in 2018

Cuba is set to close out the year with a new record in the arrival of international tourists, reaching 4.75 million visitors, according to a senior official from the island’s Ministry of Tourism.

“Despite US sanctions which limit its citizens to travel to Cuba and a sharp drop in the first half (of the year) we project to finish this year with a new record-high figure of international visitors.”

Said Michel Bernal, MINTUR’s development director, in a press conference.

The figure represents a 1.3 percent increase from last year, when the Caribbean island was affected by hurricane Irma which caused economic losses of $13 billion, he added.

“Canada continues to be the country’s first market despite a 2-percent drop in arrivals of tourists, while the US comes in second marked by the increase of cruise ships from that nation.”

Bernal said.

Arrivals to Cuba by air have decreased about 6 percent, while by sea they have increased 48 percent, due to new cruise companies and routes from the US. Bernal said that, up to December 13, more than 600,000 US visitors travelled to Cuba, most by cruise ships.

He added:

“We project to close out the year with 850,000 tourists coming in on cruises, the majority from the US.”

Traditional markets like France, Germany, Spain, the UK, and Italy declined in arrivals, while Russia became the most dynamic source country with a 30-percent rise in comparison to 2017.

Additionally, tourists from Mexico and Brazil increased by 23 and 16 percent respectively, while Chinese visitors increased 10 percent from last year.

Meanwhile, Jose Daniel Alonso, MINTUR’s commercial director, said Cuba is projecting to receive 5.1 million visitors in 2019, a 7-percent increase from this year. Alonso said that Cuba will work to increase the number of visitors it receives from emerging markets like China Turkey, Eastern Europe and other Asian nations in the coming year. The tourism industry is now the second source of foreign currency income for Cuba, after professional services abroad. 


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