HAVANA, Cuba, Apr 15 (ACN) Cuba has so far received 1,612,371 foreign visitors, an increase of 5.15% over the same period last year, according to data presented on Friday to members of Parliament by the Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero.
The minister highlighted the growing role of rental houses - as an alternative to hotels - when accommodating tourists, a modality that offers 26,602 rooms in Havana and other regions of the country.
He also pointed out that, so far this year, 243,000 foreigners have arrived in Cuba on cruise ship, a figure that represents an increase of 36% in year-on-year terms, while the work of rehabilitation of the ports of the capital, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba continues.
A 42.2% of visitors repeat their stay and the largest provider of tourists is Canada, while travel from European countries have been reduced by "the lack of direct flights from these nations," according to the minister.
For this year, Cuba maintains the aspiration to receive more than 5 million tourists and reach a 7% growth.
In 2018, more than 4.7 million foreign visitors arrived on the island, representing a rise of 1.3% compared to 2017 and a new record, although the figure did not reach the proposed goal of 5 million tourists.
Cuban tourism authorities have indicated that they are following the strategy of introducing a new variety of hotels in order to seek more competitive and higher quality products.
The island's hotel plant currently has some 70,000 rooms, of which 63% are located in four- and five-star facilities, and until 2030 the official plans include the construction of more than 103,000 rooms and luxury hotels in the country's main cities.
Tourism is Cuba's second source of income after the sale of professional services abroad, contributing 10% to the gross domestic product (GDP) and generating half a million jobs.