Domestic tourism growing fast
CUBA STANDARD — Compensating for a 1.8-percent drop in international
visitors, domestic tourism in Cuba grew 12.6 percent in the first seven
months of the year compared to the same period in 2012, official
magazine Bohemia reported.
Showing that vacationing Cubans are increasing their spending, revenues
from domestic tourism rose 13.9 percent in the same period.
The boom is particularly felt during summer vacations. More than 17,000
Cubans lodged in hotels on the island on Aug. 17, breaking the one-day
stay record for domestic tourists, the article cites José Manuel Bisbé,
marketing director at the tourism ministry.
"The growth levels took us quite by surprise," Bisbé told Bohemia. "In
the beginning, we were rather skeptical as far as access of our people
to hotel activities goes. But it's been very favorable, it has evolved."
These growth rates — triggered by the government's dropping in 2008 of a
long-standing prohibition for regular Cubans to access tourist hotels,
as well as the rising number of Cubans with dispensable hard-currency
income — prompt Bisbé to predict that domestic tourism will soon reach
numbers that rival those of foreign visitors.
A total of 339,470 Cubans stayed in hard-currency hotels as tourists
from January through the end of July. Tourism officials expect the
number to reach 625,000 by the end of this year, nearly 100,000 more
than in 2012. Within five years, Bisbé said he expects domestic tourism
to "at least" reach the 2-million mark.
In 2012, Cuba welcomed 2.8 million foreign visitors.
An anecdotal survey of domestic tourists in Varadero, the Bohemia
article begins with a Cuban couple, both members of an agricultural
cooperative in Artemisa province, who celebrate their 10th anniversary
with a vacation at the five-star Barceló Solymar Arenas Blancas resort.
According to tourism ministry data, 80 percent of the domestic hotel
stays were booked by Cubans living in the island rather than friends and
relatives abroad. Thirty-seven percent of domestic tourists this year
preferred Varadero; domestic demand centers around family and beach
tourism, according to Bohemia.
The Bohemia article says Cubans staying in luxury hotels are a mixed
crowd, including a sizable group of self-employed businesspeople, Cubans
whose relatives abroad paid for the stay, athletes, artists, Cubans who
returned from missions abroad, and tourism workers.
Source: "Domestic tourism growing fast « Cuba Standard, your best source
for Cuban business news" -