January brings tourism back on growth track

CUBA STANDARD — Breaking a record in visitor numbers for the month and growing a hefty 9.3% from January 2013, 320,032 tourists visited Cuba in January, the National Statistics Office (ONE) reported.

The rise is a rebound from two years of stagnation. In 2011,  January set a new record with 296,055 visitors, but in 2012 and 2013, January visitor numbers dropped to 293,329 and 292,810, respectively.

The overall visitor number growth for 2013 was just 0.5%, below expectations. However, the January figures continue the growth trend that began in November (+7.6%) and December (+8.8%), possibly putting 2014 on track for a record year.

Canada — already Cuba’s biggest source market — was the biggest contributor to the January rebound, with a 13.9% rise in visitors. Other strong source markets were Italy (+16.3%) and Germany (+8%), France (+7%), Spain (+3%), Chile (+16.1%) and Venezuela (+24.9%). Meanwhile, there were drops of visitors from Britain (-9.2%), Argentina (-29.8%), Russia (-13.1%), and Mexico (-12.5%).

For the whole year 2013, revenues rose 1.9% to $1.8 billion. Overnight stays dropped 13.9%, and hotel occupancy dropped 4.5 points from 2012 to 44.8%.

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