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Cuba sets new record for tourist arrivals in 2015

Cuba sets new record for tourist arrivals in 2015

HAVANA: Cuba set a new record for foreign tourist arrivals with one month remaining in 2015, a year in which the Caribbean island has consolidated its status as a growing cruise-ship destination.
A total of 3,139,764 foreign visitors, with Canada accounting for the largest single chunk, visited the island through the end of November, an increase of 17.6 percent over the first 11 months of last year, the National Statistics and Information Office, or ONEI, said Thursday.
Germany, France, Britain and Italy also were major sources of visitors, while Japan, Haiti, Costa Rica, Ireland and Poland posted “notable gains,” the ONEI said.
A total of 3,002,745 foreign visitors arrived in Cuba in 2014, contributing an estimated $2.7 billion to the nation’s economy. That year marked the first time the country had eclipsed the 3-million mark.
The tourism boom coincides with the restoration of full diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States, a new era first announced by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban counterpart Raul Castro last December and consolidated when embassies were reopened in the summer.
In the first 11½ months of 2015, about 147,401 Americans arrived in Cuba, 62,807 more than last year.
Experts expect that number will double due to steps by the Obama administration to ease restrictions on travel to the communist-ruled island.