This ‘high season’ the best ever for Cuba says tourism minister
HAVANA, Cuba, Thursday, May 10, 2012 - Over 1.73 million visitors arrived in Cuba from December 2011 to April 2012, marking a record for the island’s tourist ‘high season’.
Of these, 1.24 million were foreign tourists, which represents a growth of 5.2% over the same period for 2011.
These statistics were revealed by Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero while addressing the 32nd International Tourism Fair, FITCUBA 2012.
Marrero said this growth demonstrated that the preference for Cuba as a destination in the Caribbean keeps growing and he linked this to the country’s natural resources.
He reported that traditional source markets like Canada (6%), and France (9.6%) showed a steady growth, while Argentina, the market that this year’s FITCUBA is dedicated to, doubled its figures. Russia, Germany, Mexico, Venezuela, Brazil, Holland, Colombia and Brazil, among others, also exhibited increases as well.
The tourism minister reported that the only countries that saw a decline in their number of travellers to Cuba were the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain, and he linked this to the impact of the global economic crisis on these countries.
Marrero pointed out that Cuba continues to work to increase the quality and diversify their tourism offering, which enabled it to maintain growth figures.
During 2011, said Marrero, Cuba opened five new hotels with 1,537 rooms, while over 6,639 rooms underwent major repairs to increase their comfort and the hotels’ overall competitiveness.
Cuba now has a total of 58,626 rooms, of which, 63% are in four- and five-stars hotels, with 71% dedicated to ‘sun and beach tourism’, 23% to ‘city tourism’ and 2% to ‘nature tourism’.
Marrero also indicated that the ministry bought 315 buses and 3,652 cars for rent, which eased the ability of vacationers on the island to get around.
The minister reiterated that the country runs a comprehensive investment plan that includes not only boosting the number of rooms, mostly in hotels of four and five stars, but also assisting in the remodelling of hotels to increase their standard.
The state has 30 joint ventures operating, said Marrero, in addition, it operates 62 administrative and selling contracts with 13 international hotel chains, which manage 47.4% of the rooms on offer.
The investments in the hotel industry will be supported by the construction of new marinas, golf courses, the rehabilitation of airports and the road network and transport for tourism, said the Cuban minister.
He also said they will be diversifying and expanding the country's international air connectivity, where 40 airlines and 33 charters travel back and forth on a regular basis year-round.
The International Tourism Fair 2012 FITCuba will end tomorrow (May 11) in the tourist region of the Northern Keys of Villa Clara, one of the youngest in the country, but which already has 5,507 four- and five-star category rooms. This is the start of an ambitious development plan that will include another 45,837 rooms throughout the northern coast by 2030.