The arrival of international visitors to Cuba fell 12.2% in May compared to the previous month, according to a report of the National Office of Statistics and Information (ONEI).
According to the official entity, last month 117,000 international travelers arrived on the island, a figure lower than that of April, when 133,281 were received.
It is the first month of 2022 in which a contraction of tourist activitywhich in the opinion of the economist Pedro Monreal responds to the 32% decrease in visitors from Canada, the country with the largest number of international visitors (people who visit a country other than the one where they have their usual place of residence).
The trajectory corresponds to the usual cyclical movement of tourism in Cuba, says the expert on his Twitter profile, where he posts his analysis of the island’s economy.
For Monreal, the May data for the four main issuers essentially reflect a “trident rotation”, which combines three elements: a notable contraction in the main issuer (Canada), the importance of the Cuban community in the flow of visitors and the “evaporation” of Russian tourism“, he explained.
In this regard, the economist sees it difficult to meet the official forecast for the arrival of tourists in 2022. “With a cumulative of 564,847 visitors received in the first five months of the year, there would be approximately 2 million visitors pending to reach the goal official 2.5 million tourists,” he clarified.
In this context, the economist recently said that the Cuban government should resume investment in basic service sectors such as electricity, water and gas, instead of continuing to allocate countless resources to real estate activity, specifically to the construction of hotels.
According to the specialist, the decision to investing in one or another sector is a political decision of the country’s authorities, pressured by popular discontent exacerbated by frequent blackouts.
Monreal has warned in this regard that receiving 2.5 million international visitors in 2022 “there would be” more than half of the hotel rooms in Cuba (69 tourists rotating per room in 2018 vs. 32 in 2022), for which it would be prudent take a “pause” in hotel investment to attend to “other priorities”.
At the moment there are 77,809 hotel rooms on the island, a figure that represents a growth of 13% in relation to those existing in 2020, which would seem sufficient given the projections of tourism, he pointed out.
“The 8,930 additional rooms would represent an investment of $1,473 million dollars, calculated at the lowest cost of the Business Portfolio (165 thousand USD/inhab.),” he said.
He claims that the cost of building one of these rooms can buy 10 tractors. Likewise, he assured that the agricultural activity and the sugar industry were the two biggest “losers” in terms of investment priority in Cuba last year.
Both activities suffered falls of 50.8% and 80% with respect to the relative weight they had in total investment in 2020.