14ymedio, Tourismo, Havana, November 10, 2023 — The Association of Tour Operators of Russia reported, this Thursday, that between January and October, about 146,305 tourists from that country arrived in Cuba, a 3.5 times greater than for the same period in 2022. According to the Association, arrivals are expected to exceed the 178,000 received in 2019, which was one of the best years for tourism before the pandemic.
This organization collects the data through the Russian Embassy in Havana and predicts that by the end of December travelers will exceed 180,000. Just “with the existing air traffic volumes and the occupation of flights (reserved tickets) from Russia to Cuba in the first half of December, the record of 2019 was reached,” it says.
Despite the fact that the alliance between Havana and Moscow has among its objectives the increase in the flow of visitors, the arrival of Russians is well below that of other nationalities. In August, the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI) reported that first place is still occupied by Canada, with 675,996 tourists, followed by Cubans residing abroad, with 241,115, and travelers from the United States, with 111,100.
Since the beginning of this year, several Russian airlines have announced the reestablishment of their direct routes with Cuba. This is the case of Aeroflot, whose flights to Cayo Coco and Varadero resumed last July.
According to the Association, it is estimated that each passenger spends about 132,000 rubles (1,430 dollars) on round-trip tickets on New Year’s flights
A direct connection was also established between Moscow and those two destinations operated by Nordwind after the direct route to Havana was suspended in 2022 due to sanctions against Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.
In addition, the tour agency Pegas Touristik plans to connect the Russian city of St. Petersburg with Cayo Coco from December 31. The flights will be every ten days and will continue until next April.
According to the Association, it is estimated that each passenger spends about 132,000 rubles (1,430 dollars) on round-trip tickets on New Year’s flights. When the season ends, the rates will drop to 78,000 rubles ($845), although the injection of capital will continue to be significant.
All-inclusive packages of nine nights are also offered with departure from Moscow for a minimum price of 330,000 rubles ($3,576) and a maximum of 380,000 ($4,118 dollars). In other seasons, a similar tour, for two people, would have an average cost of 240,000 rubles ($2,600).
However, the efforts of the Cuban authorities to reach 2.5 million tourists in 2023 have little chance of bearing fruit, even with the help of the Russians. As of September, the global number of foreign visitors barely reached 1.8 million and, despite having recognized that the estimated total would fail, the Government has refused to update it and has launched a campaign to attract as many visitors as possible in the last days of the year.
Cooking competitions, music festivals in the exclusive hotels of the northern keys and dinner in the exclusive Dîner en Blanc restaurant in a Havana experiencing shortages have been the last desperate measures to get the Island’s tourist sector out of its inertia.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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