Saturday, October 30, 2010

Spanish tourism stagnating

A popular tourist street on the Habana Vieja - "Old Havana".
Tourism from Spain, one of Cuba’s main source markets, is stagnating or declining this year, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero told Spanish travel agents during the opening of a conference in Santiago de Cuba.

He said he expected Spanish tourism to rise again “sooner or later.” The number of Spanish visitors peaked in 2005, at 194,000.

The current stagnation follows a financial crisis and recession that hit Spain harder than other European nations, and U.S. takeovers of two key Spanish tourism companies, and the bankruptcy of another. The purchase of Orizonia Corporación — one of the biggest foreign tourism providers in Cuba and owner of the Iberojet tour operator and Iberworld charter airline — by Washington-based private equity firm Carlyle Group took the company out of the picture in 2006, costing Cuba some 46,000 Spanish visitors per year.

The takeover of Spain’s Pullmantur Cruises by Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruises, also in 2006, caused a 22,000-passenger drop in Cuban cruise tourism. Finally, the ceasing of operations by Air Comet and the bankruptcy of its owner, Madrid-based Grupo Marsans, in December last year caused another 20,000-visitor drop in Cuba.

New, smaller Spanish players, such as Gemini Cruises, have picked up the ball, Marrero said.

From: Cuba Standard

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