From Radio Habana Cuba
For the second consecutive year and despite Washington’s blockade of the island, tourism in Cuba surpassed 2.3 million visitors, representing a 12% growth in the industry. This again reflects the confidence of the international community in Cuba as a tourism destination.
Cuba welcomed the greatest number of travelers from Canada, Britain, Italy, Spain and Mexico in 2005.
Such a high number of vacationers on the island is an achievement for the sector, one which is the most vulnerable and which has been affected by the international economic crisis, increased oil prices, wars, hurricanes and Washington’s hostility against the Caribbean nation.
The local tourism industry constitutes over 40 percent of the island’s purchases in materials and services. The hospitality industry also increased its earnings 10 percent this past year and improved the quality of its services as it constantly seeks to improve efficiency while reducing costs.
During the past 12 months, 1,921 new rooms in four hotels were completed. This adds to the total of 43,000 available rooms served by some 80,000 employees.
There was also an increase in access to the island; currently 100 international airlines connect Cuba with 40 cities worldwide.
During 2005 there were other factors that contributed to growth in the tourism sector. These included the inauguration of flights by British Virgin Airlines, the Italian carrier Neo, Finnair from Finland and a new route for the French airline, Corsair to Holguin. Seminars were hosted by a French tourism magazine plus the presentation of the world catalog of the German firm TUI in Varadero.
For 2006, the Cuban authorities foresee a continued increase in flights and earnings, goals that will be achieved through effort, control and efficiency.