In spite of the effects of the recent Trump administration’s tightening of the U.S. embargo against Cuba, the Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero stated on Friday that 4,300,000 tourist arrivals are still expected to visit the Island this year. That number is lower than the original forecast of five million international visitors by the end of 2019.
The changes affected tourism in the month of June, reducing the number of visitors by 20.33%. Cruise ships, yachts and private planes and the permitted category of educational travel have been banned by the U.S. government. Of note, Americans can still travel to Cuba legally under the Support for the Cuban People license category, said inSight Cuba’s President Tom Popper in an interview with Cuba Business Report.
In 2018, Cuba received 4.7 million tourist arrivals and it was previously projected the number would climb to more than five million in 2019. That number is predicted to be reduced by 10 percent this year.
U.S. tourism to Cuba grew rapidly in 2015 when former President Barack Obama relaxed the rules for American tourism to the Island. The number of U.S. travelers expanded making the American tourist market the second largest after Canadian tourists. One half of those American visitors arrived by cruise ship.
To date this year, 2,468 023 visitors have chosen Cuba as their destination of choice.
Hotel investment and construction is on the rise in Cuba. This year, Cuba will have a total of 4,000 new hotel rooms.
The country is also planning to build its first theme park and constructing more dolphinariums, a favorite tourist activity.
Tourism is still the main economic driver of the Cuban economy, which supports social programs, housing construction, education and a free public health system.
In the National Assembly, President Miguel Diaz-Canel stated that the tourism sector currently employs over 111,000 Cubans and is a chief source of foreign currency.
“A large part of the revenues we use weekly… comes from tourism… For this reason, we must continue betting on the development of tourism,” the President said.
He also urged the search for new markets and to create more flexible policies regulating tourism industry investment to make it more attractive to investors. He also stated that it is vital to promote tourism from other countries.
Cuba still attracts tourists because of its warm climate, splendid beaches, health tourism, eco-tourism, cultural attractions, and most especially, tourism safety.