First-quarter tourist arrivals in Cuba totaled slightly more than 1 million, an increase of 1.9% compared with the same period a year ago, according to Cuba's National Statistics Office.

The top visitor markets for Cuba were Canada, the U.K., Italy and Spain, according to the statistics office.

Cancun and Jamaica were the only other Caribbean destinations to post positive numbers during this winter's global tourism downturn. Cancun registered a growth of 4.7% from January through March, although its numbers are expected to be down for the second quarter due to the outbreak of the H1N1 virus in May.

Jamaica squeaked by with a 0.2% visitor increase, helped along as Cuba was by a steady stream of Canadian visitors.

Elsewhere in the Caribbean, visitor numbers were down, especially in the English-speaking Caribbean countries, according to the latest report from the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Antigua, the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands suffered double-digit declines in the winter season, while Barbados, Belize and St. Lucia were hit by high single-digit reductions.

Not even the fast-growing Dominican Republic escaped: arrivals for the January-through-April period dropped by 4.8%.


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