By Jeniffer Rodríguez Martinto
HAVANA, Cuba (ACN) — Cuba hopes to reach the figure of five million foreign visitors for the first time in 2018, an increase of 6.4 percent compared to this year, said Manuel Marrero, head of the ministry of tourism (Mintur).
Marrero told the deputies of the Services Commission of the Cuban Parliament, meeting in Havana, that an increase in tourist-days is expected, as well as increased revenue from the sector.
He noted that, despite the decrease in the number of vacationers due to the passage of Hurricane Irma, at the end of November the country reported 4,257,754 visitors, an increase of 19.7 percent compared to the same period in 2016.
“We hope that the second fortnight of December is better,” he said, while reaffirming that Mintur has not given up on meeting its goal of receiving 4,700,000 travelers this year.
He confirmed that Canada is the main source of tourists to Cuba, while a growing number US visitors came under the provisions of the 12 categories of travel authorized by the Obama administration, which since November 8 have been drastically restricted by President Donald Trump.
The traditional markets that reported the largest visits are France, Italy, Russia, Spain, Argentina and Brazil, which have already surpassed their historical record figures.
Marrero said cruise visitors grew by 230 percent, and that this favourable trend is expected to continue, while new requests for air operations are reported for the current high season (November-April).
He assured that there is an improvement in the indicators related to quality, and that the main dissatisfactions of visitors are related to road signs, currency exchange and the hygiene of the cities, aspects that are being addressed.
With regard to the link with the non-state sector, he specified that there are currently 24,217 rooms in private homes, spaces that are gaining more acceptance among those who arrive in the Caribbean destination.
According to the head of Mintur, travel agencies have contracts with 2,585 self-employed workers in activities such as housing leases, gastronomy and transportation.