Cuba sets a target of five million visitors by the end of 2019

Posted: 10-Jan-19 08:55

Cuba has set its sights on attracting more than five million foreign visitors to the island by the end of this year, according to tourism minister Manuel Marrero. The Caribbean nation’s tourism sector has been growing for over a decade, with 4.75 million tourists recorded in 2018, representing an estimated three billion dollars in national income.

Cuba sets a target of five million visitors by the end of 2019

Cuba’s tourism minister Manuel Marrero has announced that the country is aiming to attract more than 5.1 million foreign visitors to the Caribbean island this year, which would represent the twelfth year of growth in its tourism sector. More than five million tourists would equate to a 7.4 percent rise in the number of visitors compared to the previous year.

According to the tourism minister, 2018 closed with a figure of 4.75 million tourists visiting the island, with 850,000 travelling to Cuba on cruise ships. He said that there was an accumulated growth of six percent in the number of visitors in December alone, which reversed the decrease in tourists recorded after Hurricane Irma hit the island in September 2017.

After the hurricane lower visitor arrivals persisted despite efforts by the tourism industry to have hotel facilities ready to receive holidaymakers. Impressions of damage caused by the storm continued, he said.

The decrease in visitors from the US was attributable to measures taken by President Donald Trump's administration to reverse travel restrictions and tighten the US blockade against Cuba, but some inefficiencies in the sector also contributed to the lower visitor arrivals, he added.

The decline in the number of American tourists travelling to the island stopped in November 2018 and is currently up 47 percent, much of which is the result of increased cruise activity with Havana welcoming more and more ships to its historic harbour.

Cuba estimates that income generated from tourism has reached a record high of more than three billion dollars, an increase of 17 percent. Regarding investments, Marrero said the introduction of a new business model in hotel management and marketing contracts, including financing, has meant that the emblematic Habana Riviera and Habana Libre hotels in the country’s capital Havana could be returned to their former glory.

He acknowledged that in Havana, the luxury tourism sector is being boosted by the development of five-star facilities such as the recently-opened Iberostar Grand Packard in Old Havana and the Prado y Malecon, slated to open in late 2019. Havana currently has 12,000 hotel rooms, with 44 percent in the two and three-star categories.

Ahead of Cuba’s annual FitCuba tourism fair in May, industry authorities in Havana expect to recover 1,121 rooms currently out of service and plan to open 12 new accommodation facilities. In all, there are 36 hotels currently under construction throughout Cuba, which will add around 18,000 new rooms to more than 65,000 already existing on the island.


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