Cuba scores two million tourists in record time
HAVANA - Havana is hot. With Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro making global headlines for restarting diplomatic relations between their countries after five decades, 2015 is shaping up to be a record year for the Cuban tourism industry.
Two million tourists have visited Cuba from January 1 to July 10, according to a press release by the local Ministry of Tourism. The two million mark was reached in 39 days fewer than in 2014, a spike in arrivals in the present year that translates in 16 percent growth, thanks to the encouraging performance of source markets such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, US and Argentina According to the note, the results show that Cuba, as a travel destination, has garnered international recognition as a safe, peaceful and healthy country to visit.
While Germans, Venezuelans and Peruvians are all pushing numbers higher, Canada supplied the most visitors with 779,576 so far this year, up 14 percent from 2014. But are they really Canadians?
A tourist arriving on the Caribbean island via Canada isn’t necessarily a Canadian. Instead, many of those rushing to book vacations in Cuba are increasingly Americans trying to beat the crowds before relations between the two countries are normalized.
In 2014, Cuba achieved its goal of receiving over 3 million tourists in a year for the first time in its history, a feat that would seem to be easy to match and surpass in 2015.
In a televised interviewed, Cuba’s Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said the island nation is poised to step up the current pace of guestroom construction from 2,500 a year to as many as 4,500 hotel rooms by 2018 in a bid to meet the increasing demand.