Tourism´s Best Year in Cuba
By: Graciela Guzmán
In a world beset by economic turmoil forcing people to check their bank accounts twice before taking a trip, Cuba's tourist attractions have proven their value during the recent 2011 economic crisis by attracting the greatest number of visitors that the island has recorded in recent decades.
It seems the sunny sandy beaches, charming colonial sites, nature spots, and friendly people together with the attractions of its cultural diversity and history, as well as other reasons, were very convincing for 2,700,000 people who decided to visit Cuba, according to Tourism Ministry statistics with a closing date of December 13, 2011. This figure is 8.2% more than the number of tourists who traveled to Cuba in 2010 and Marrero added that this year is expected to close with around 2.9 million foreign visitors.
Of course, hundreds more vacationers hit the island in the 18 days left to end the year, but the announced preliminary figure was itself a record for a year, compared with the 2.5 million visitors reported in 2010.
This good news was joined on December 15 by the report of the arrival of the one millionth visitor to the famous Varadero resort for the fourth consecutive year and one week before 2010.
According to officials from the Ministry of Tourism of Cuba (Mintur), most of the visitors' increase during 2011 comes from source markets led by Canada, with more than 800,000 vacationers per year, followed by the UK, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Argentina, Mexico, Russia and Venezuela. A Mintur statement reads “welcoming more than two million vacationers a year shows our position in the global tourism scenario in the midst of a difficult international situation”. According to the institution, the new record is “a testimony to the growth of our competitiveness, based not only on the quality and diversity of the Cuban tourism product, but also on the stability and security we offer to our clients, topped by the kindness and hospitality of our people”.
According to the statement by Mintur, this achievement in the Cuban tourism industry management, given that it is a young and small geographical destination, endorses the Caribbean island as having unlimited potential to draw in vacationers due to its unique offerings and values, which “will contribute to a better and systematic contribution to our society's development”. It seems that with the aforementioned intention, Cuban authorities have decided to place the tourism industry next to vital sectors of the economy such as oil, mining and power generation, in an area where foreign investments appeal is prioritized. Business opportunities for foreign capital investment in tourism activities in Cuba range from hotel construction to real estate development on golf courses, according to a report released in Havana by Cuba's Foreign Trade and Investment Promotion Centre.
The official institution makes sure that the foreign capital contributions will be used to further advance updating the Cuban economic model, with emphasis on efficiency and saving, export promotion and import substitution.