Popularity of Cuba holidays rose in 2011
The arrival of 2.7 million visitors to Cuba in 2011 led to a 7.3 per cent growth for Cuba tourism. The growing interest in Cuba holidays is partly owed to the island's exotic beaches but even more so to a growing interest in the unique Cuban culture.
Cuba’s Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero, recently unveiled a 7.3 per cent growth in the Caribbean island’s tourism industry in 2011, after the arrival of over 2.7 million holidaymakers. The announcement was made at the 32nd annual International Tourism Trade Fair (FITUR) held in Madrid from the 18th to the 22nd January 2012.
Although Marrero noted a slight downward trend in the number of holidaymakers from Spain booking Cuba holidays in 2011, he underscored the important role that Spain played in Cuba’s tourism industry. Despite the slump in Spanish visitors in the last year, Spain continued to be one of the key contributing markets to Cuba’s tourism alongside countries like Britain, Canada, Mexico and Russia, responsible for sending thousands of travellers to cultural Cuba holidays. In addition to this, Spanish entrepreneurs remained key investors in Cuba’s tourism sector and this was also highlighted during Marrero's speech in Madrid.
The growth in the number of visitors that Cuba experienced in 2011 contributed to approximately $2.3 billion in revenues and has been made all the more impressive when analysed against the backdrop of a global economic crisis. “Though we are living through hard times due to the economy downfall that shakes the world, our position has always been to take small, but steady, steps at a time” Marrero noted. The Caribbean island shows no sign of a slowdown in 2012, quite to the contrary many industry experts agree that Cuba will surpass its recently announced 2012 target of 2.9 million visitors with ease.
Image by: stephenk1977, on Flickr
However, with the current tourism boom, many agree that there is need for improvements across the tourism sector such as the building of new Cuba hotels in order to keep up with growing demand, a fact which the government has acknowledged in recent months. Marrero noted at FITUR that the Cuban government has put steps in place to address the needs of the growing numbers of holidaymakers including investing heavily in the building and expansion of Cuba hotels and resorts throughout the island. Marrero also hinted that Cuba was not just about “sun and beach tourism” but that it would seek to develop a more, “diversified product that enables clients to enjoy our rich historical and cultural heritage, as well as the environmental and health tourism”, a tactic that may be geared, in part, towards newcoming holidaymakers from the United States.
Image by: Ulysse2001, on Flickr
U.S. citizens may still not be able to experience the typical sun, sea and sand holiday to Cuba, however, under the new rules set by the Obama administration; Americans can now engage in purposeful travel to Cuba with a “people-to-people” stipulation. A host of U.S. based organisations are now offering licenced tours to Cuba including Centre for Cuban Studies, Austin-Lehman as well as the National Geographic Expeditions which has 17 fully booked Cuba tours planned between January 2012 and May 2012. The new rules coming out of the US have opened up the eyes of many around the world to the value of experiencing the cultural side of Cuba holidays, an opportunity that many may not have taken advantage of otherwise.
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