Havana has revised down a 15% forecast of the number of tourists to Cuba in 2019 after the US decision to ban US cruise ships from calling on Caribbean island, acknowledged Thursday the government.
“Despite the US government’s measures to curb tourism in our country, we will welcome 4.3 million visitors in 2019,” Minister of Tourism Manuel Marrero said in an address to Parliament broadcast on television. State.
If “they maintain the trend”, the goal of welcoming 5.1 million tourists in 2019 will be reached at 84.3%, he added. This will imply a 10% decrease in the number of tourists in the country compared to 2018.
On June 5, the United States announced new sanctions on the Cuban tourist industry, an essential sector for the island’s economy accused of interference in Venezuela for its support for President Nicolas Maduro’s regime. Washington now prohibits Americans from traveling to Cuba on group trips. The sanctions also apply to cruise ships, fishing or pleasure craft, and private or business aviation.
Cuba, under an embargo of Washington since 1962, had received over 400, 000 American tourists between January and May. “Tourism is one of the activities that bring the most currency into the country,” said Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel during the same parliamentary session. After the sale of medical services, tourism is the second economic activity of the island, with revenues estimated at $2.5 billion per year.
The Minister of Tourism also said that because of the sanctions, online travel agencies had been fined and had withdrawn from their offers several Cuban hotels, fearing to be the subject of complaints under the Helms Act -Burton. Chapter III of this law, which came into force in May, allows Cuban exiles to sue in the US courts companies that made profits through nationalized corporations after the Cuban revolution of 1959.
Since 1996 and to avoid friction with many allies, successive US administrations have not activated this article. Donald Trump gave the green light to its application in May.