HAVANA – Cuba’s tourist sector is closing the year with a 4 percent rise in the number of visitors to the island and expects to see 2.7 million arrivals in 2011, official media said on Tuesday.
The Tourism Ministry said that the sector hopes to receive more than 2.5 million visitors by the end of 2010, while up to November it had posted a 4-percent growth.
According to the daily Juventud Rebelde, the sector will not reach the level of revenues forecast for this year, though its income has outpaced the number of tourist arrivals.
In September, authorities in the sector reported a revenue increase of 3.5 percent during the first nine months of this year compared with the same period in 2009, which closed with a decline of 11 percent.
The Economy and Planning Ministry announced last week that for 2011, tourism revenues should grow by 29.5 percent, while a 10.3-percent increase in the number of visitors is foreseen.
In a statement cited by the state news agency Prensa Latina, the ministry’s marketing director, Jose Manuel Bisbe, said that the most significant step to be taken next year will be the promotion of cruises and the landing of “three or four” cruise operations.
He also said that for the 2012-2013 period, greater potential is expected in golf and real estate associated with tourism.
Canada, Britain, Italy, Spain and Germany remain the chief sources of tourists to the island, while the markets of Russia, Argentina, Mexico, Peru and Brazil are being developed.
In 2009, Cuba welcomed 2.43 million tourists, 3.5 percent more than in 2008.
Tourism is a strategic element of the plan of economic reforms being undertaken by President Raul Castro, who has proposed diversifying and expanding tourist attractions with the creation of golf courses, marinas and new real estate developments, among other projects. EFE