LIMA, Peru. – Cuba welcomed 1,666,592 international tourists up to the end of August, a number that is far from what the island’s authorities expected for 2023.
According to a recent report published by the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI, by its Spanish acronym), this represents an increase of 171.6%, i.e., 695,164 more international visitors than for the same period last year.
A total of 2,164,981 travelers arrived in the island, counting Cubans who reside abroad, an increase of 155% when compared to the same period in 2022.
For this period and before the COVID-19 pandemic in the island, the country had already welcomed around three million foreign visitors. Today, just months before the end of 2023, Cuba has yet to welcome two million travelers.
About tourism sources to Cuba, ONEI indicated that Canada (675,996), United States (111,100), Russia (106,529) and Spain (62,415) are the countries that contribute the larger numbers of travelers, while 241,115 Cubans who reside abroad also visited the island.
The report states, also, that January had the most international tourists (249,255) and June had the least (154,590).
Several island economists warned some months ago that the food, health and fuel crisis the country faces are making it almost impossible for tourism to recover to pre-pandemic levels.
“The very complex situation of the economy affects tourism because, for example, a tourist needs to rent a car to get around in the country, but cannot find fuel; sometimes even in a five-star hotel supplies are scarce,” stated Cuban professor Omar Everleny to Agencia EFE.
Also, he considered it “necessary to invest in a competitive non-hotel industry, because if tourists can only spend money within the hotel proper, the revenue the facility will derive is minimal.”
Expert Carmelo Mesa-Lago also warned the Spanish news medium that an increase in tourism for 2023 in Cuba would be generated during high tourism season by cold weather in Canada, which would explain why the flow of Canadian tourists would plummet during tourism low season.
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