Xinhua, December 22, 2010
Cuban authorities plan to conclude 2010 with a total of 2.5 million tourists, with an expected growth of 10 percent in the number of tourists for 2011, a senior official of the Ministry of Tourism (Mintur) said on Tuesday.
Commercial Director of Mintur Jose Manuel Bisbe said that a total of 2.4 million tourists have visited the nation this year by Tuesday, and the number is expected to reach 2.5 million by the end of 2010. He considered the figure satisfactory given the situation in other countries. The official stated that Cuba hopes to welcome 2.7 million visitors in 2011. He described the goal as "ambitious" but not unattainable considering the current conditions in local tourism. "We are not so far away from the goal of 3 million visitors to Cuba per year," Bisbe said. Cuba has over 56,000 hotel rooms, most of them in the capital and in Varadero. According to Bisbe, visitors are mainly from Canada, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Russia, Argentina and Mexico.
"Cuba is currently developing cruises, recreational boating and eco-tourism. It is also building a new golf courses for 2012," Bisbe added. Tourism is currently the second source of income for Cuban's economy. The National Statistics Office said tourism represented a 2.2 billion U.S.dollar income for the country in 2009. It is also one of the strategic sectors in the economic reform plan promoted by leader Raul Castro. Castro has proposed to expand the range of services offered in the industry, which he described as one of the most effective ways to inject currency to the weak Cuban economy affected by the global financial crisis.