© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People benefit from the seashore in Havana, Cuba, August 9, 2023. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini/File Photo
HAVANA (Reuters) – Cuba is relying on winter-weary Russians to assist increase the Caribbean island nation’s ailing tourism sector in 2024, in accordance with the Cuban ambassador in Moscow, after a disappointing 2023 noticed guests numbers fall in need of the federal government’s targets.
Some 185,000 vacationers from Russia traveled to Havana and Cuba’s dazzling white-sand seashores in 2023 and “we hope that the number will rise to 250,000 people this year,” Cuban ambassador Julio Antonio Garmendía mentioned in a report by Russia’s Interfax information company.
That would characterize a 35% leap in vacationers from Russia in 2024, a desperately wanted shot within the arm for a key Cuban business that has struggled to revive following the COVID-19 pandemic. Stiffened U.S. sanctions underneath former U.S. President Donald Trump additionally complicate journey by U.S. residents to the island.
The Cuban diplomat in Moscow mentioned new flights to the island from the Russian capital – a 13-hour direct flight – had helped increase customer numbers final yr and would do the identical in 2024.
Russia, a long-time political ally of Cuba, has additionally launched its MIR bank card to be used on the island, facilitating transactions for residents who go to Cuba’s cities and resorts.
Communist-run Cuba, knee-capped by a near-unprecedented financial disaster and widespread shortages, is relying on elevated overseas forex generated by vacationers this yr to assist import meals, gasoline and drugs to the island.
Cuban officers have mentioned 2.4 million vacationers arrived on the island in 2023, round 1.1 million guests lower than the three.5 million it had budgeted.
This yr, tourism officers predict the variety of guests to rise to a extra modest 3.2 million even because the nation confronts an ongoing financial disaster.
According to the nationwide statistics company ONEI, the principle sources of vacationers to the island in 2023 had been Canada (936,436 guests), Cubans residing in different nations (358,481), Russia (184,819), the United States (159,032), Spain (89,285) and Germany (69,475).