This Year Cuba Received Only 44.5 Percent of the Tourists Who Arrived Before the Pandemic

It’s expected that it will be impossible for Cuba to reach the 2.5 million tourists anticipated for this year. (Mintur/Archive)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 28 September 2022 — Tourism activity, one of the main sources of hard currency in the Cuban economy, hasn’t managed to recover even half of the international visits recorded before the pandemic. Between January and August of this year, Cuba received 1,390,000 tourists, barely 44.5% of the total recorded in the same period of 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Cuban government presents as a triumph that the arrivals of travelers in August represent a growth of 556.1%, compared to the 251,178 recorded in the first eight months of 2021, when much of the world, including Cuba, was subject to severe restrictions to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

In this way, the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI) confirms that the flow of international tourism remains well below the 3,120,000 travelers registered in the first eight months of 2019.

In August 2022 alone, Cuba received 136,565 tourists, a decrease of 15,915 compared to the 152,480 registered in July. The gap is greater compared to the same month of 2019, when 971,456 arrived on the Island; that is, only 27.72% more than two years ago.

In the face of this, competitors of the Island, such as Mexico and the Dominican Republic, have considerably recovered their numbers prior to the pandemic. The Mexican government reports that the arrival of international tourists from January to June totaled 30.9 million visitors, an advance of 65% of the 48 million it registered in 2019. With more up-to-date figures, the Dominican authorities record that as of August of this year, 5,60,000 foreign travelers arrived, with a positive variation of 27% compared to two years ago.

The data show that, so far, the Government’s strategies are advancing at a slow pace to reactivate a key industry in the economic dynamics of the island. One of the goals is to attract investments in the gastronomy sector.

“Our Creole food is a great strength,” said the Cuban Prime Minister, Manuel Marrero, on September 12, when he inaugurated the XII Varadero Gourmet International Festival, a speech that generated discomfort among Cubans, who suffer from a profound  food shortage.

Cuba also seeks to stop being a destination with only beaches and become an ecotourism option, a concept that gained momentum after the confinement. Although to achieve it “we still have to improve in many things,” Marrero acknowledged at an international nature tourism meeting held in Havana on September 21.

The most important group of international travelers is Canadians (30.7%), followed by Cubans abroad (21.8%). With lower participation, are the United States (6.2%), Spain (5.6%), Russia (3.9%) and Germany (3.5%).

Translated by Regina Anavy


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