14ymedio/EFE, Havana, 9 September 2015 — The tourism industry in Cuba showed a growth of 17% at the end of the first half of 2015 with the arrival of two million 194,134 visitors to the island. Manuel Marrero, Minister of Tourism, reported the information in a meeting with national press during the opening of the new headquarters of the Faculty of Tourism, which welcomed 400 new students this year, 22 of them foreigners.
To meet the growing demand, hotel construction and improvement projects have been strengthened through an intense effort of investments that could raise their classification from 3 to 5 starts, but the unaddressed issue continue to be the quality of service, where the human factor and training are of primary importance.
According to the minister, the countries with the largest presence as tourists in Cuba are Canada, England, Spain, Mexico, France and Italy. However, the expectation of a possible wave of tourism from the United States may double the final figure by the end of the year.
According to the latest report released by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI), in the first half of 2015, Cuba there were 2,190,134 foreign visitors, representing an increase of 17 percent compared to last year.
The tourism sector, the Cuban economy’s second highest source of income behind professional services (that is, primarily health care professionals sent to work abroad for which foreign governments pay the Cuban state), yielded a revenue of more than 1.7 billion dollars in the first half of 2015, according to official data.
Last year the island for the first time exceeded the threshold of three million foreign tourists, receiving 3,002,745 million visitors.
In 2015, official forecasts expect to exceed that record as well as the contribution of the sector to the economy, estimated at 2.7 billion dollars.