Tourism minister forecasts a rise in travellers destined for Cuba holidays
Manuel Marrero, announced an increase in the popularity of Cuba holidays during 2011. The island's tourism industry is said to be experiencing a boost following KLM's resumed operations to Cuba, bringing in more holidaymakers from Scandinavia and Europe.
Despite a global economic downturn, more people seem to be picking up Cuba travel guides. The island’s minister of tourism, Manuel Marrero, has announced an almost eight per cent increase in the number of individuals opting for holidays in Cuba during 2011 when compared to 2010. The boost in numbers from 2010 to 2011 underpinned a buoyant forecast for 2012, with the total number of travellers expected to rise to nearly three million.
The announcement was made during the 29th edition of Havana’s International Trade Fair (FIHAV), where minister Marrero also took the opportunity to underscore the strong relations between Cuban companies and Canadian tour operators, “We see a marked interest from entrepreneurs of that Northern nation to invest here, and that ratifies the strength of the relations, which is really beneficial for both parties, and works with a lot of stability” stated Marerro. The number of Canadians selecting Cuba holidays has already exceeded 800000 and is said to be nearing the one million mark. An estimated 42 per cent of Canadians taking holidays to Cuba return for a second visit, making Canada the premier source of travellers to Cuba from North America. The strong ties between the two nations will come as no surprise to many, as Canada has always differentiated itself from much of the tensions between the U.S .and Cuba. Former Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, was the first leader of a nation belonging to NATO to step foot on Cuban soil since the long-standing U.S. trade embargo started in the 1960s.
Despite the fact that some operators have cancelled their routes to Cuba, Marrero noted that new routes from Mexico, Holland and United Kingdom are expected to open in during the peak season for Cuba holidays. Following a 68-year absence, KLM airline resumed flights to Cuba at the end of October 2011. With connections in over 130 cities globally, the Dutch airline will make a significant contribution to Marerro’s 2011 estimates with flights to Cuba from Germany, Holland, Russia, the United Kingdom and Scandinavia arriving three times a week. Vice president at KLM, Harm Kreulen, described Cuba as a “potential tourist destination for the European Market, due to its good climate and its culture, people and history”.
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