US Tourism to Cuba Ranked Ninth

HAVANA TIMES, July 3 – With a total of 41,904 visitors in 2008, the United States ranked ninth on the list of principal tourist markets for Cuba, a list that Canada heads with a wide margin, with 818,000 tourists, reported the National Office of Statistics (ONE).

Cuba received over 2.3 million tourists last year (up 9.7 percent). The visitors spent US $2.7 billion, up 13.5 percent in gross revenue, reported the statistics office.

Of the visitors from the United States, many were forced to use routes via third countries due to the US travel ban on its citizens, who need special US Treasury Department permission to legally visit the island.

If the travel ban was lifted most industry analysts believe that the US would become the largest tourism source for the island. Bills to do so are currently in committees at the House of Represenatives and the Senate, but support for ending the prohibition has not been forthcoming so far from the Obama administration.