HAVANA, July 28 (Xinhua) — Cuba is on track to meet its target of drawing 5 million foreign visitors by the end of 2018, with 2.5 million international tourists arriving in the first half of the year, local media reported on Saturday.
The latest tourism figures were released during a cabinet meeting presided over by President Miguel Diaz-Canel, state daily Granma said.
Cuba’s Tourism Ministry was lauded for its efforts to recover tourism flows in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, which lashed northern Cuba in 2017.
The strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic, Irma caused damage to some resorts, but officials moved quickly to rebuild and renovate them since tourism is one of Cuba’s leading economic engines.
In 2017, 4.7 million foreign visitors traveled to Cuba, an 11.6-percent increase from the year before.
Considered a strategic industry for the Caribbean island nation, tourism generates annual revenues of more than 2.5 billion U.S. dollars, the second-biggest foreign revenue-earning industry after exports.
The industry has contributed 10 percent of Cuba’s national budget and provided half a million jobs.