MIAMI, United States. – In spite of the serious economic crisis that Cuba is facing, the island’s regime hopes to welcome 3.5 million tourists in 2023, a figure that remains far off the more than 4 million tourists that visited the country in 2018 and 2019.
Visiting Madrid (Spain), where he is attending the International Tourism Fair (Fitur), Cuba’s Minister of Tourism, Juan Carlos García Granda, explained to EFE News Agency that it is an ambitious goal, but not an unattainable one.
“We have planned to pursue a difficult goal as well, 3.5 million tourists. Our country is ready for the more than 4 million that we always welcomed in recent years, like the rest of the countries that want to reach the 2019 figures from before the pandemic,” García Granda explained.
The official pointed out that U.S. sanctions have hurt tourism in Cuba, since, judging from geographic proximity alone, Cuba’s northern neighbor should be one of the island’s principal tourist-producing markets.
The Cuban minister referred to “all the limitations we have with respect to the largest tourist-producing market in the world, our natural market, which is the United States, whose citizens are forbidden by the blockade from traveling to our country.”
“In spite of said scenario, we are not going to work any less in order to reach the goal of 3.5 million tourists. From what we’ve seen at this tourism fair, the goal is reachable,” stated García Granda to EFE.
In 2022, Cuba welcomed a mere 1.7 million tourists, nowhere near the 2.5 million visitors projected.
According to official figures from Cuba’s National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI, by its Spanish acronym), between 2008 and 2018, the Caribbean country showed sustained growth in the arrival of tourists, a trend that slowed down in 2019 with a slight decrease, and then plummeted starting in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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