MIAMI, United States. – Some 185,749 foreign tourists visited Cuba between January and February of this year, an increase of 522.5% over the same period in 2021, according to statistics published by the state’s National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI, by its Spanish acronym).
The number of international visitors during the first two months of 2022 represents 150,190 more tourists than there were during the same months in 2021, when the country’s borders remained closed as part of the government’s strategy to combat COVID-19.
According to ONEI’s report, 86,483 international visitors arrived in the country in January and 99,266 arrived in February. These numbers are still very much below those reported in the island before the start of the pandemic.
The principal countries from where tourists originated during the first two months of 2022 were, in first place, Canada with 40,821 visitors, and Russia in second place, with 35, 871 visitors.
During 2021, the Russian market was greater than the Canadian market, which had traditionally occupied first place as a source of tourists. However, Russian airline cancellations after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine have reduced the numbers from the Russian market.
“This situation means that Cuba will have difficulties in trying to meet its goal of welcoming 2.5 million tourists to the island in 2022,” stated to Reuters Paolo Spadoni, an expert on the Cuban economy on the faculty of Augusta University in the state of Georgia.
“The country will not give up on its goal to welcome close to 2.5 million tourists in 2022,” said earlier this week Juan Carlos García Granda, Minister of Tourism.
“To lose the Russian market in 2022 will have a very serious negative and significant effect on the Cuban economy, particularly for the tourism industry,” added Spadoni.
The government in Havana expected that Russians would be as much as 20% of international tourists arriving in the island in 2022. However, the goals will fall short if the conflict in Ukraine continues.
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