The number of foreign tourists who have visited Cuba since the start of the year has almost sixfold compared to the same period in 2021, but remains below pre-Covid-19 levels, the government said on Saturday.
Officials say they hope to see more Russian visitors once flights canceled due to the pandemic and the war in Ukraine are reinstated.
The National Statistics Office (ONEI) announced that 834,891 tourists visited the island from January to July, compared to 141,293 in the first seven months of last year.
Tourism, the second economic activity of the island
International tourism is Cuba’s second economic activity, after the sale of medical services, but the Covid-19, together with restrictions on travel from the United States, caused this sector to collapse in 2020 and 2021.
The total number of foreign visitors plunged from 4.2 million in 2019 to one million in 2020. However, with Covid-19 now better controlled, Cuban authorities hope to reach 2.5 million visits this year. Cuba is counting in particular on a revival of tourism from Russia, which in 2020 and 2021 supplanted Canada as the first source of foreign visitors.
Canadians lead tourists to Cuba
Cuba’s ambassador to Moscow, Julio Garmendia, told Russian newspaper Izvestia last week that efforts were underway to restore canceled flights by this winter. “We know that the Russians are eager to spend their holidays in Cuba again and the Cuban people are waiting for them with the hospitality that characterizes them,” he assured, according to the official Cubadebate blog.
However, ONEI data show that Canada has once again become the main source of foreign tourists to this island this year, with 258,896 Canadians having already visited there between January and July.