Canada still tops with Cuba

Cuba’s tourist trade continues to ride out any storm clouds foreign economies have to contend with. Press Today’s Ian Stalker reports that Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero (pictured) told the country’s annual tourism show this week that Cuba enjoyed a banner tourism year in 2011, a year in which many of its main source markets struggled with economic problems. Cuba hosted 2,716,317 foreign visitors in 2011, a 7.3% increase from the previous year. This past winter was the best winter ever for Cuban tourism, with 1,731,738 foreign tourists visiting. Marrero told his audience of travel trade professionals from Canada and around the world that coinciding with the growing number of visitors is an increase in hotels, rental cars and attractions. Canada remains Cuba’s largest source market. Some traditional markets, like Italy, are sending fewer tourists, but Cuba is making inroads in new markets, like Argentina, now Cuba’s fourth-largest source of tourists. This year’s show is being held in the beach retreat of Cayo Santa Maria, a switch from Havana, where the show has been staged in recent years.