British tourists are flocking to Cuba

Campaign News | Saturday, 1 May 2004

Arrivals up by 13.6 per cent this year

April 30 - British tourists have spurred the recovery of Cuba's tourism trade, which grew 13.6 percent in the first quarter of this year.

Despite world security concerns and the SARS scare, British tourists have flocked to Cuba in growing numbers, and charter companies are increasing weekly flights from eight to 12 a week.

Rebecca Jara, sales director at Cuba's Ministry of Tourism, said arrivals in the first three months of 2004 were up 13.6 percent over last year's first quarter.

"We are on track to meet our target for this year of 2 million tourists," she says.

Jara said British tourism grew 37 percent in the first quarter to 32,616 visitors, and became the fastest growing European market for Cuba in March, though still behind Canada Italy, Germany, France and Spain in overall numbers.

Tourism generated $2.1 billion in earnings last year, when 1.9 million people visited the island.

British tourism will be the highlight of Cuba's annual tourism convention, attended by hundreds of tour operators and travel agents next week at Cuba's prime resort of Varadero.

British charter operators Monarch and Britannia are adding new weekly flights to Cuba this year.

Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. announced in March that it will start flights to Cuba next year as part of its expansion plans as tourism worldwide recovers from the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.


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