Cuba welcomed 4.7 million foreign visitors in 2017, a 16.2% increase over 2016 and the most successful year to date for the nation. Among those were more than 1.1 million Canadians, keeping Canada at the top of the list of source countries.
Some highlights of the year:
44% of 2017 Canadian visitors in had previously visited Cuba
For the seventh year in a row, Cuba received more than 1 million Canadian tourists
Cuba remains the number one destination for Canadians in the Caribbean
There are more direct flights from Canada (from 30 Canadian cities) including Halifax, St. John, Moncton, Montreal, Quebec City, Hamilton, London, Windsor, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Saskatoon, Calgary, Edmonton, Kelowna and Vancouver.
"Peace, health and safety remain the pillars of Cuban Tourism and, ultimately, the factors that explain our incredible growth," says Eloy Govea, Director for Canada for the Cuba Tourism Board.
"The unique environment allows everyone to thoroughly experience the Auténtica Cuba: our spectacular beaches, incredible people, vibrant culture, fascinating history and unspoiled nature; all of which is particularly accessible and affordable for Canadians."
Cruise tourism is a growing factor in Cuba. Among the lines that visited the island in 2017 were:
MSC, Norwegian, Carnival, Fred Olsen, Holland America, Azamara, Oceania, Viking and Royal Caribbean.
The Cuban government aims to have 224 new hotels complete by 2030, adding 103,000 new rooms. That would take Cuba from 68,000 to 171,000 hotel rooms in the next 12 years. These new development projects will occur in virtually all regions of Cuba including the main tourist spots such as Varadero and Havana.
Coming off the heels of a successful 2017 and a growth rate of 16.2 per cent, it is likely that Cuba will meet its 2018 goal of welcoming 5 million foreign visitors
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.