EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 13 March 2022 — The number of foreign tourists who visited Cuba in January was almost four times higher than the same month of the previous year, when the figures sank due to covid-19.
As published this Saturday by the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI), the number of international visitors rose to 134,661 in January, compared to 35,842 in the first month of 2021.
The strong increase is linked to the global recovery from the pandemic, both in Cuba and in its main tourist source markets, and contrasts with the evolution in 2021 as a whole.
The ONEI estimated 573,944 international travelers as the number who visited Cuba throughout last year, which represented a decrease of 60% compared to 2020.
The figure for the whole of 2021 represents a quarter of the official projection at the beginning of the year, which was around 2.2 million visitors, and very far from the between 4 and 5 million annual tourists prior to the pandemic.
The Ministry of Economy and Planning estimates that this year some 2.5 million international visitors will travel to the island, who should contribute some 1.159 billion dollars to the Cuban economy.
Cuba, which reopened its borders in the middle of last November after the closure forced by the pandemic, sees tourism as a priority sector. This is its second largest item of gross domestic product (GDP) and its third largest source of foreign currency, behind the sale of medical services to other countries and remittances sent primarily from Cubans abroad to their families on the Island.
The state tourism sector expects to end this year with 84,906 rooms, 5.7% more than the previous year, despite the pandemic. As this newspaper has confirmed, the construction of new hotels is going at full speed.
In Havana’s Vedado, for example, the dilapidated structure of the Moscow restaurant is being rapidly demolished to make way for accommodation to be managed by the Cuban company Gran Caribe and the Spanish company Be Live, and ten days ago the Telégrafo Axel Hotel was reopened as the first LGBTI friendly establishment in the capital.
Despite coronavirus restrictions, a lack of tourists and a shortage of construction supplies across the country, the Grupo de Administración Empresarial SA (Gaesa), the military conglomerate, has not stopped its massive projects. One of them is the one that is being built at 25th and K, in El Vedado, a luxury hotel that is projected as “the tallest of its kind in Havana” and that aims to reach 42 floors and 154 meters in height. .
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