HAVANA, July 10 (NNN-EFE)– The 237,534 international visitors who arrived in Cuba during May set a new monthly record, the National Statistics Office, or ONE, said on Thursday.

International arrivals in May were up 21.1 percent over the same month in 2014.

The figure for May brought the number of international tourists coming to Cuba in the first five months of 2015 to more than 1.7 million, a 15.3 percent increase compared to January-May 2014, the ONE said.

Canada once again was the main source of foreign tourists, followed by Germany, France, Britain, Italy, Argentina and Venezuela.

This increase in international tourism to the island coincides with the initial phase of the political and diplomatic thaw between Cuba and the United States announced last Dec. 17, and on July 20 embassies are expected to be reopened in the two countries.

In recent months, a greater presence of U.S. visitors has been noted in cities like Havana after President Barack Obama in January ordered the restrictions on travel to the communist island to be made more flexible

Another significant figure that was emphasized on Thursday was the number of cruise ship arrivals in Cuba between January and May – 174 – with those vessels carrying a total of 62,183 passengers.

“And a better entry fee is being forecast that will induce the increase in ship passengers making stops (here). Also, the incorporation of Cuba as a destination by new shipping lines is expected,” says government Web site Cubadebate citing data from the Transportation Ministry.

Between 2012 and 2014, the number of cruise ship arrivals in Cuba multiplied sixfold.

The Havana Cruise Ship Terminal stands out among the tourist disembarkation points, followed by ports in the central province of Cienfuegos, Santiago de Cuba in the eastern part of the country, and the Isle of Youth in the southwest.

Tourism is the second-biggest source of income for Cuba, following the export of professional services.–NNN-EFE


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