Above: Varadero Beach in Cuba
By Cuba Journal
Cuba’s tourism sector is surging so far in 2015, according to the newest data from the country’s National Statistical Office (ONE).
The Caribbean island received 995,670 international tourists in the first quarter of 2015, up 14.2 percent from the same period in 2014.
The biggest increases came from Venezuela, which posted a 73.6 percent increase in tourist arrivals, and Mexico, which showed a 28.9 percent jump in arrivals.
Canadians remained the single largest source market for tourism to Cuba with a total of 551,773 arrivals in the first quarter.
The biggest drop came from Russia, with a 27.5 percent reduction in tourism, likely due in large part to Russia’s continued economic struggles at home.
Cuba did not report arrivals from the United States, although it did report 153,000 visitors from “other countries” not included in its main list; that represented an 11.6 percent increase over the first quarter of 2015.
Travel by American to Cuba remains legal only under certain conditions, such as people-to-people travel or educational trips.
That could change as the countries work toward a wider normalization plan in the coming months.