Cuba eyes Russia not just for financial and diplomatic help, but additionally as a key participant in reviving its tourism sector.
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 wanting 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 quantity will rise to 250,000 folks this 12 months,” Cuban ambassador Julio Antonio Garmendía stated in a report by Russia’s Interfax information company.
That may symbolize 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 beneath former U.S. President Donald Trump additionally complicate journey by U.S. residents to the island.
The Cuban diplomat in Moscow stated new flights to the island from the Russian capital — a 13-hour direct flight — had helped increase customer numbers final 12 months 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 foreign money generated by vacationers this 12 months to assist import meals, gasoline and medication to the island.
Cuban officers have stated 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 12 months, 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.
In response 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 international locations (358,481), Russia (184,819), the USA (159,032), Spain (89,285) and Germany (69,475).
(Reporting by Nelson Acosta, modifying by Dave Sherwood and Cynthia Osterman)
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