Havana, Nov 21 (EFE).- Cuba received 1.9 million tourists between January and October 2023, an increase of 164.6% compared to the same period in 2022, but 44.6% less than the same period 2019, the year before the pandemic, according to data from the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).
The figure shows that the government objective of 3.5 million international visitors during 2023 will hardly be met and that the sector, strategic in the island economy, has not yet recovered after covid-19.
The main tourist issuing countries are Canada (748,976), the United States (130,331), Russia (146,306), Spain (76,284), Germany (55,519) and France (45,586), all with year-on-year increases of between 111% and 343%. %.
The Cuban community abroad contributed 297,034 international travelers and residents on the island added 654,853 flights, bringing the total number of travelers between January and September to 2,591,938 people.
According to the ONEI, the first months of 2023 were much better compared to the previous year than June, July and August.
If in January of this year there were close to 250,000 international visitors (compared to less than 100,000 in the same month of 2022), in September there were just over 147,000 compared to around 100,000 in the same period last year.
In the last council of ministers, the head of Economy and Planning, Alejandro Gil, highlighted that the total number of visitors received so far in 2023 represents 75.5% of what was planned for this date and only 55% of those They traveled to the country in the first nine months of 2019.
Tourism, previously the main engine of the Cuban economy, is key to the economic recovery of the island, plunged for more than two years into a serious economic crisis with a great shortage of basic products (food, fuel and medicine) and a high inflation.
The tourism sector is the second contributor to the gross domestic product (GDP) and the third source of foreign currency, after professional services and remittances, according to estimates by various independent experts.
Cuba received 1.6 million international travelers in 2022 and fell below its objective of hosting 1.7 million – readjusted from the initial forecast of 2.5 million – according to the ONEI. Before the pandemic, the island received between 4 and 5 million tourists a year.
Cuba has set the goal of reaching 3.5 million international tourists in 2023, a goal that the authorities of the sector recognize is “very high,” but they maintain that they are working to achieve that goal.
Its situation contrasts with similar destinations in the region, such as Punta Cana (Dominican Republic) and Cancún (Mexico), which are registering historic highs in visitors after the pandemic. EFE