A record year for Cuba tourism numbers

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Musical performances are part of daily life in Havana.
Musical performances are part of daily life in Havana.

Cuba closed out 2018 with a record 4.8 million visitors.

The 2018 figure is higher than 2017's 4.5 million visitors but lower than the projected 5.1 million arrivals, according to Alejandro Gil, Cuba's minister of economy and planning.

Gil attributed the dip to bad-weather events, including mistaken concerns about damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, and confusion regarding the Trump administration's restrictions on travel, which were first announced in June.

Still the number represents a 60% jump in arrivals over the last five years.

Canada and the U.S. remain the top two tourist markets for Cuba, although Cuban tourism officials recently launched a renewed campaign to boost traffic from Britain, France, Italy, Spain and Germany as well as from potential markets in China, Japan, India and South Africa, according to Gil.

For 2019, overall tourism numbers are expected to increase to 5.1 million visitors.

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