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The Numbers Game: Cuban tourism is better than ever

2nd May 2014 Print

Cuba is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world but to some is relatively inaccessible. Longstanding international sanctions banning American tourists (a nearby, relatively wealthy visitor pool) you might think Cuban tourism numbers have taken a hit. In fact, people are still flocking to Cuba, with Cuba holidays in 2014 are set to continue growing at a rate of 0.5% as they did in 2013.

All told, Cuba received a total of 2,852,572 foreign visitors in 2013m, and that’s not even including the statistics about American tourists. Americans may have found loopholes over the years to reach the vibrant island culture and resorts that make Cuba so popular, but there are specific limitations to American tourists. For instance, the Cuban government stipulates that they’re only licensed to enter the country as people-to-people and educational travellers rather than with traditional tourism visitor status. This special status for Americans and the fact that the Cuban government counts Cuban-American travellers as nationals mean that tourist numbers are actually even higher than formally reported.
2013 saw the rise of specific international populations entering Cuba. Chilean tourists marked the most significant increase with a rise of over 30% (over 35 000 visitors) in 2013 while Venezuela followed closely behind with 26% more visitors.

In previous years Russian tourism accounted for a large portion of Cuba's tourist revenue. However the country's 2013 tourism statistics reveal a steep 19% decline in Russian tourism as many now prefer the nearby Dominican Republic.

There is plenty of competition for tourists in the Caribbean, but Cuba has always stood out among the crowd. Despite its small size, Cuba's political climate and ideological regime have become the stuff of cultural legend over time. And while many Caribbean islands have been infiltrated by American tourism dollars and as such have to some extent developed more homogeneous amenities, Cuba's culture makes it one of the region’s most distinctive destinations.

Cuban tourism offers visitors a variety of holiday options. From all-inclusive beach holidays to majestic mountain adventures to Havana's incredible food, music and architecture, the small island nation of Cuba has developed infrastructure to host an impressive varied range of tourism activities.

There are plenty of colourful islands with white sand beaches and cocktails galore, but Cuba is a one of a kind destination that tourists from all over the world seem to respond to with gusto.

Increasing tourism numbers from South American tourists represent an exciting new demographic of travellers and show promise for future years. Russian tourists may appear less of a hurry to head to Cuba these days and the Americans may not enjoy proper tourism status, but Cuba continues to show strength in its numbers when put up against similar islands with comparable offerings.

Image by Makadaka, used under Creative Commons licence.

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