This Monday Cuba reached the two million tourists received so far this year, with Canada and the United States as the main issuers of visitors, as announced in the preliminary day of the FitCuba 2019 International Tourism Fair, the island’s major leisure event.
“Today we reached 2 million visitors, 12 days before last year,” Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero wrote on his Twitter account.
During the sector’s high season (from November to last April) the main European markets ―France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain― registered decreases of between 10 and 13% in the issuance of travelers to Cuba, according to the Caribbean country’s authorities.
Despite this, Cuba closed the first four months of 2019 with a growth of 7.2%, when more than 1.9 million international visitors arrived on the island, according to data from the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR).
This result corresponds to the plan to reach 5.1 million tourists this year, said the commercial director of MINTUR, Michel Bernal.
In that period, Canada remained in first place among the issuing markets, with 624,530 travelers (+3%), after registering four successive annual decreases until 2018, although it has increased for the eighth consecutive month, according to the state media.
Bernal also indicated that the United States continues as the second issuing market with 257,500 visitors until April for a year-on-year growth of 93.5%, despite the restrictions applied by that country’s government, including the prohibition of its citizens to travel as tourists to the island.
Out of the U.S. travelers, 55% arrived in Cuba on cruises, a modality that this year is registering a 48% growth, and 45% arrived by air under one of the eleven authorized categories despite the ongoing U.S. embargo on the Caribbean country.
In 2018 the island registered more than 4.7 million foreign tourist arrivals, which represented a 1.3% increase compared to 2017 and a new record, although the figure did not reach the proposed goal of 5 million tourists.
Cuba wants to bet on events tourism and turn Havana into the main center for international meetings. The sector’s fair is dedicated to this modality and to celebrate the 500 years of the city that receives more than 50% of the visitors that arrive in the country.
Tourism is the second source of income for Cuba after the sale of professional services abroad, contributing 10% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and generating half a million jobs.
For this year, the tourist authorities of the Caribbean country calculate that they will be able to collect for the first time three billion dollars in income.