The number of people visiting Cuba is climbing this year, as thawing diplomatic relations with the USA gives the island a boost.
Earlier this year, diplomatic talks began between American and Cuba, restoring ties that had been broken for 50 years. Restrictions on travel for Americans going to Cuba have been relaxed, while embassies have now been opened in both Washington and Havana.
The positive steps have been expected to fuel new business opportunities, potentially stimulate foreign demand for real estate – the island does not allow overseas buyers to own property – and boost the tourist industry. Now, figures released by Cuba’s Minister of Tourism, Manuel Marrero, show that the boost is already taking place: 2,194,134 visitors arrived on the island in the first six months of 2015, up 17 per cent on the same period last year.
Tourists mostly came from Canada, the UK, Spain, Mexico, France and Italy, with workers striving hard to improve the quality of the country’s services. Several new hotels are also being planned to meet growing demand for training in Havana, while older hotels will undergo maintenance.
“We know there are many things to do, but we are going in the right direction,” he told Cuban news agency ACN .