HAVANA, Dec. 21th (ACN) With its growing popularity as a tourist destination, Cuba is ending 2015 with an encouraging development of this sector, able to inject over two billion dollars a year into its economy.
According to preliminary data, from January to November, 3,139,837 people traveled to the country, equivalent to a 17.6 percent growth compared to the figure recorded for the same period of 2014.
That figure exceeded the total amount of foreigners who arrived in the island last year (3,002,745). And confirms the possibility of breaking, for the second consecutive time, the record of international visitors to Cuba.
There has been a determination to convert Cuba into a major tourist destination in the Caribbean, with promotional campaigns and measures to raise the quality.
A year ago, the presidents of Cuba and the United States announced their intention to move towards normalization of relations. Since then, the flow of tourists to the island has not stopped growing.
Even though the limitations on American citizens traveling to Cuba for tourism and other restrictive measures imposed by the US trade embargo persist, the bilateral approach, after half a century of rupture and tensions, has many foreigners to discover the “forbidden fruit” of the Caribbean.
According to professor and researcher Jose Luis Perello, of the Faculty of Tourism at the University of Havana, the change in US policy toward Cuba has acted as an incentive for all source markets to travel to Cuba.
According to data provided by the analyst, by the end of November, Canada consolidated its leadership as the main source of tourists to the island with an increase of 12.1 percent, followed by Germany (26 percent), United Kingdom (26.5 percent), France (33.1 percent), Italy (18.3 percent) and Spain (35 percent).
In the summer, from May to September, considered the low season for international tourism on the island, average arrivals increased by nearly 22 percent. In fact, traditional winter markets also grew during this period.
According to Perello, these results emphasize the importance of all components of the tourism value chain, such as the airport, transport, and housing systems, retail network and telecommunications.
On the other hand, the new links with the US will become an important source of stimulus for the Cuban economy if both countries are willing to take further action to facilitate the intensification of those ties where travels gain more importance.
However, the laws governing the US embargo against Cuba remain the main obstacle for the tourism industry.
In this attractive but challenging scenario, to achieve and maintain high standards of quality in services is and will remain the top priority of the sector; therefore, the island is already working to implement policies to achieve Cuban product differentiation, and perhaps reaching five million visits in a year.