Landscape_of_Pinar_del_Rio_-_CubaHAVANA, Oct 2 (NNN-Xinhua) — The Cuban tourism industry maintained the rapid growth it has seen throughout 2015 in August, reporting a 17.2 percent year-on-year increase, the National Statistics Bureau (NBS) said.

In a tourism report covering January to August, the state body explained that the Caribbean country received 2.427 million foreign tourists.

The NBS on Thursday confirmed Canada as the largest source of visitors to the island, followed by the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Mexico.

The official newspaper, Juventud Rebelde, said that 2,410,785 international arrivals had been registered between January-October 2014, with this figure having been exceeded two months earlier in 2015.

The paper added that September was likely to also have been “an excellent month for the arrival of travelers due to the visit of Pope Francis”, although official NBS figures are still awaited.

The NBS report also showed that the entertainment industry is now the second largest source of foreign revenue for the island, generating 2.5 billion dollars in 2014, second only to medical services.

Last year, the island country surpassed for the first time the milestone of 3 million foreign tourists, receiving 3,027,453 in total.

This growth is linked to the modernization of Cuba’s hotel industry, which is set to count with 85,000 international-quality hotel rooms by 2020, up from 61,200 today. 66.5 percent of these are in four and five-star hotels.

With the restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States, the island-nation will expect tourism numbers to continue growing with the expected removal of the ban on U.S. tourists visiting the country. — NNN-XINHUA

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