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Tourism stagnates, and so do revenues.

After two decades of near-uninterrupted growth, tourism in Cuba stagnated in 2013, according to new data released by the National Statistics Office (ONE).

Mainly due to weakness in European source markets and a likely slowdown of U.S.-Cuba travel, the number of visitors through November stagnated slightly above 2.5 million, causing Cuba's tourism industry to miss the 3-million target set at the beginning of 2013. Despite a 7-percent spike in November, arrivals for January-November were down 0.4 percent from the same period in 2012.

Meanwhile, revenues from January through September remained level from 2012, at 1.412 billion CUC (US$1.525 billion). Revenues from lodging, retail and recreation showed slight declines, but they rose in transportation and gastronomy.

While the number of recreational tourists stagnated, business travel declined 9.8 percent, and events tourism dropped a hefty 35.5 percent through September. However, health tourism rose 5 percent.

Hotel occupancy from January through September dropped to 46 percent, from an already low 48.2 percent in the same period of 2012.

Canada, which accounts for nearly 1 million tourists, remains the engine of Cuba's tourism industry and the most reliable source market, with a 2.9-percent rise in visitors through November 2013. Other strong-performing source markets were Germany (+6%), Mexico (+9.4%), Venezuela (+23%), Chile (+31%), and Colombia (+5.8%).

Source markets with continued weakness are Britain (-2.9%), France (-6%), Italy (-8.8%), and Spain (-12.1%).

The number of visitors from countries in the "Other" category, which is made up mostly of travelers from the United States, was down 3.6 percent for the first 11 months of 2013.

Meanwhile, domestic tourism grew 12.6 percent in the first seven months of the year--the most recent data avail-able--compared to the same period in 2012.

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Author:Werner, Johannes
Publication:CubaNews
Geographic Code:5CUBA
Date:Jan 1, 2014
Words:300
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