HAVANA (AP) _ Cuba’s tourism industry bounced back this year from a deep slump, with the number of visitors up 19 percent during the first four months of this year, tourism ministry officials said.
Until the end of April, 770,000 people visited Cuba, 19 percent more than those who visited during the same four months in 2002 and 2 percent more than the same period in 2001, Tourism Vice Minister Marta Maiz Gomez said Saturday.
Maiz spoke at a news conference organized for an annual convention of international tourism operators opening Monday in the beach resort of Varadero, east of here. About 900 tour operators from 60 countries are expected to attend _ including 63 from the United States.
Tourism is this cash-starved island’s most important source of hard currency, bringing in as much as US$2 billion annually. Cuba, like other Caribbean nations, suffered a serious slump in tourism last year after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorism attacks on the United States.