People, Travel

Cuban Tourist Arrivals Up 18%

Cuban Tourist Arrivals Up 18%Cuban Tourist Arrivals Up 18%

Tourist arrivals in Cuba totaled more than 2.6 million as of September 30, the National Statistics and Information Office announced. There were 2.62 million arrivals during the first nine months of this year, up by some 400,000, or 18%, from the same period in 2014, AAP reported. In September alone, historically one of the slowest months for arrivals, Cuba welcomed nearly 200,000 tourists, a figure that was up 27.4% from the same month last year. The government has implemented a plan to build several hotels and renovate existing properties to meet growing demand for accommodation in Havana and other cities. The plan calls for adding more than 13,600 rooms in “sun and beach destinations” in 2016. The tourism boom coincides with the restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States in July after more than a half century of hostilities. In the first seven months after US President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions, about 88,900 Americans arrived in Cuba, a figure that was up 54% from 2014 and is expected to grow further by the yearend. Tourism is the second-largest source of income for the island, generating $1.7 billion in revenues in the first half of 2015.