Cuba reached its first million visitors received this year this Wednesday, according to the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) in the framework of the holding in Havana of the sector’s International Fair, FITCuba 2023.
The news was given to the media by Minister of Tourism Juan Carlos García Granda, who explained that beyond the figure reached, what is important is that Cuba is heading towards the recovery of the leisure industry, according to a report by Prensa Latina (PL) news agency.
🇨🇺 #Cuba recibe hoy un millón de visitantes, cifra que representa un importante paso para la recuperación del #turismo cubano.
Canadá continúa siendo el mercado líder en emisión de viajeros internacionales. pic.twitter.com/lim3cBvpf4
— Juan Carlos Garcia Granda (@JuannCarlosGG) May 3, 2023
The official stated that the greatest difficulties affecting tourism are the limitations due to air connectivity, despite the fact that 51 commercial airlines currently travel to the country.
For this reason, an important segment of FITCuba 2023 is being dedicated to airline companies in order to increase seating capacity when they cover different routes to Cuba, García Granda indicated.
“We have to focus on the arrival of new airlines in Cuba, since the arrival of cruise ships was affected after the unilateral measures adopted by the United States government during the Trump administration,” he stressed.
Before the former Republican president made that decision, about 600,000 travelers arrived by sea in the country. Many were Americans, he recalled.
The top executive of tourism in Cuba also referred to issues related to the heritage recovery of Havana, to which the fair is dedicated, and affirmed that it is not concentrated only in the capital’s historic center.
“The difference of our heritage with respect to many in the rest of the world is that it is a living heritage,” he stressed.
Cuba has set itself the goal of reaching 3.5 million international tourists in 2023, although the authorities have acknowledged that it is a difficult goal considering the current situation on the island, which has had an impact on the quality of the services offered.
During a balance of tourist activity last year, MINTUR confirmed that in that period Cuba received 64.6% of the 2.5 million planned tourists. This figure, in turn, represents 37.8% of those who did so in 2019 and a growth of 4.5 times compared to 2021.
Nor was the sector’s income plan met, which reached up to 74% of what was planned: only 36.2% of what was entered in 2019.
Previously, García Granda had said that the recovery of the tourist activity “has been difficult,” but he was confident in a growing contribution of the sector to the battered Cuban economy.
“Canada, which is our main market, has recovered 80% compared to 2019, and today it represents more than 50% of the tourism we are receiving. But we cannot say the same about another market as important as the one made up of European countries,” he said.
“We have to continue working and strengthening the rest of the markets,” he said. In this sense, he explained that his Ministry is working together with travel agencies and tour operators to “rescue the Latin American area,” and mentioned countries such as Argentina, Colombia, Bolivia and Brazil among the markets in which this work is being carried out.
In addition, he affirmed that “we are not only looking at this year because tourism cannot lift the economy in a single year. It must be sustained work. And at this same fair, we are not only talking about business and prospects for the remainder of the year but also with a view to next winter.”