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Continuing a slide that began early this year, visitor numbers in April were 3.9 percent below those of April 2012, mainly due to weakness in European source markets, and a drop of visitors from the United States.

Close to 274,000 visitors arrived at the island in April, down from 288,000 in 2012, according to statistics released by the Oficina Nacional de Estadísticas (ONE).

The total for the year through the end of April was 1.222 million, down 1.4 percent.

Visitors from Canada, Cuba’s main tourism source market, rose 1.3 percent in April, and visitors from the United Kingdom (+8.1%), Germany (+11.8%), and Chile (+38.6%) increased considerably. However, the number of visitors from “other” countries, the second largest category which includes the United States, was down a hefty 13.4 percent in April. The number of visitors from France (-6.8%), Spain (-39.5%) and Italy (-7.2%) continued to decline.

For the period January-April, the number of visitors from Canada and the UK showed slow growth, at 1 percent each, while German visitors were up 10.4 percent. The number of visitors from “other” countries dropped 5.6 percent, Spain -17.3 percent, Italy -13.1 percent, and France -8.8 percent.

Other tourism indicators are down as well. According to a statistical report for the first quarter, the number of overnight stays for Jan.-March was down 1.6 percent; hotel occupancy for the quarter dropped to 63.7 percent, from 65.7 percent in the same period last year.

In a sign of higher spending and/or rising prices, revenues of tourism businesses in Cuba during the first quarter stagnated at $655 million.

In the meantime, Cuban tourism authorities are forging ahead with plans to diversify markets, and moving upscale. The government is building a marina and connected hotel at Varadero, and officials just gave the green light for a golf course community in the same beach resort, which may be followed by a dozen similar projects.


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