14ymedio, Havana, 26 April 2021 — The worst tourism forecasts for the island are already a reality. According to figures published Monday by the Cuban Statistics and Information Office (ONEI), between January and March 2021, 76,913 travelers arrived, representing only 6.2% of those who arrived in the same period last year (1,230,934), more than one million fewer.
Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the Island maintains flight restrictions for most countries, especially Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and the United States, places from which the Cuban community abroad travels to Cuba.
Tourism, Cuba’s third highest source of income, behind the sale of medical services and remittances, had already suffered a decline due, in part, to the United States sanctions. The year 2019 saw 436,000 fewer tourists compared to 2018, according to official figures, and the hundreds of hotels in the country, controlled by the military, had six out of ten beds empty during the year. However, tourism still represented a reported 2.6 billion dollars in income to the Island.
Despite the adverse figures this year and the coronavirus pandemic, which has reduced tourisms to the Island and to most destinations worldwide, Prime Minister Manuel Marrero said in a meeting with executives that Tourism will continue to be the locomotive of the Cuban economy.
To try to reactivate the sector, the Cuban government opened two of its tourist destinations to Russian tourists, a decision criticized by citizens. Russia is one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rate against Covid-19 worldwide (not even 5% of its population is vaccinated, according to official figures).
The majority of international travelers who have arrived on the island this year have come from Russia (21,467 visitors), followed by 7,313 Cubans residing abroad and 4,026 Germans, among whom the German parliamentarian Karin Strenz stands out; she died a few weeks ago on a flight originating from the Varadero resort.
To travel to Cuba, tourists must provide printed negative results in the PCR test dated 72 hours before arrival, and once they land on the island, undergo other similar tests.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.