Destinations North America & Caribbean

Cuba’s tourism numbers on the up, as U.S. eases restrictions

Aug 09, 2012 1:07 pm

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These numbers will likely shoot up if U.S. eases up more travel restrictions.

— Rafat Ali

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Cuba reports revenues rose 12.8 percent last year in tourism, key source of foreign income

Cuban authorities report that tourism revenues rose 12.8 percent in 2011, returning to levels from three years earlier as the key sector recovers from losses due to the global financial crisis.

In an undated report posted recently on its website, the National Office of Statistics said tourism income was $2.5 billion in 2011, compared with $2.2 billion the previous year.

In all, the island hosted 2.7 million visitors, up 7 percent from 2.5 million in 2010.

Tourist arrivals continued to increase in recent years despite world financial difficulties, but travelers began spending less money, delivering a hit to one of Cuba’s main sources of foreign income along with nickel mining and remittances.

The $2.5 billion figure is about on par with tourism income from 2008.

The report also gave other selected indicators on the state of the Cuban economy. It said overall international trade in goods and services rose 24.7 percent last year to nearly $32 billion.

That included $6 billion in exported goods, an increase of 31.4 percent over the previous year, and $14 billion in imports, up 31.1 percent.

Island officials have spoken of the need to narrow the trade imbalance, but Cuba continues to rely heavily on costly imports of things like food and fuel.

Trade in services, meanwhile, was $12 billion, 15.3 percent more than in 2010.

The agency did not say how much of that was outgoing vs. incoming. The figure apparently includes the brigades of doctors and technical advisors that Cuba sends to countries like Venezuela, which provides the island with about 100,000 barrels of oil a day on beneficial terms.

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