The Official Press Celebrates a Million Tourists in 2024 as an ‘Element That Confirms’ the Recovery

‘Prensa Latina’ once again remembers the goal of three and a half million travelers, very far from the more than four million in 2019

Tourists on Obispo Street, in Old Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger 14ymedio, Havana, 28 April 2024 — A little more than a week after the National Office of Statistics and Information (Onei) reported that Cuba received 809,238 international visitors in the first quarter of the year, the official press celebrates that, last Friday, the Island reached one million travelers since the beginning of 2024.

For Prensa Latina, it is the “element that officially confirms the possibility” of recovery of the sector, which has not raised its head since the Covid-19 pandemic. However, the economic aspiration for this year of 3,500,000 visitors, reported by the official agency, is still far removed from the 4,275,558 that arrived in Cuba in 2019, a year before the pandemic, not to mention that the Caribbean low season is now beginning.

The authorities, in any case, continue to strive to enhance the sun and beach destination of the Island, and the International Tourism Fair will focus on this. It will be held at the Jardines del Rey tourist center, in Ciego de Ávila, between May 1 and 5.

Canada continues to send the most tourists to Cuba, followed by the Cuban community abroad

The million travelers who have arrived in the country, although it represents twice those who arrived in the same period of 2023, don’t reach the figures for the same period in 2018 and 2019, when in January and April, 1,802,853 and 1,928,561 tourists were received, respectively.

Canada continues to send the most tourists to Cuba, followed by the Cuban community abroad, Russia, the United States, Germany, France, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Spain and Argentina.

Faced with the decrease in the usual markets, Juan Carlos García Granda, Minister of Tourism, has leaned towards new options. In January, he declared at the International Tourism Fair in Madrid that “Russia could still grow much more. We have other countries such as China, Poland, Eastern European countries, Turkey and Arab countries that are growing today, and we undoubtedly have to take a look at Latin American countries.”

García Granda’s intentions coincide with the promises made by the Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, during his visit to China in December 2023 to make adjustments in hotel facilities to “capture” more Asian visitors. For its part, at the beginning of April, Cubana de Aviación announced the restoration of the Beijing-Havana route in May with Air China.

In 2023, three out of four hotel rooms on the Island were left empty

Attention to the Russians is not neglected either. García Granda expects about 200,000 travelers from that country to arrive in Cuba in 2024. So that they have no problems with payments, MIR cards have been accepted on the Island since November last year. “The Russian MIR card has arrived in Cuba to stay,” he said at a press conference convened by the TASS agency at the beginning of March during his visit to Russia.

The minister did not miss the opportunity to promote the Island as a tourist destination and offered the Kremlin investment opportunities and the inauguration of Russian-managed hotels.

Although the “recovery” of tourism to which the regime aspires does not achieve the numbers that gave the sector the epithet of “locomotive of the Cuban economy,” the Government continues to invest a lot of capital in it. In 2023, 23.745 billion pesos (almost one billion dollars at the official exchange rate) were allocated to business and real estate services and rental, and 8.626 billion pesos or 360 million dollars to hotels and restaurants. Between the two areas, they represent 33.5% of the total investments compared to the little money allocated to sectors such as Education, Health, Agriculture and Science and Technology.

However, in 2023, three out of four hotel rooms on the Island were left empty, according to the annual report of selected tourism indicators.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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