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Cuba says tourism up 2% in 2008  Dec 28, 2008

$2 billion from 2.3 million visitors, with Canada, Italy, Spain and Britain topping the list.

HAVANA -- Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero announced that this sector grew by 2 percent in 2008 and will end the year with 2.3 million visitors, a number that breaks the record set in 2005.

Marrero said Friday that the sector managed to reverse the decrease that occurred in 2007, while giving an account of his management at a plenary session of Parliament attended by President Raul Castro.

Marrero, who gave no revenue figures for tourism, said the sector grew despite the devastation wrought by three hurricanes between August and November at resorts in the eastern cities of Holguin and Camag√ľey and the western city of Pinar del Rio.

He said that plans for 2009 estimate that the island will welcome 2.5 million foreign visitors and increase both revenues and profits for the sector.

In 2007 Cuba received more than 2 million tourists, generating revenues close to $2 billion.

Canada remained the chief source of tourists to the island with more than 800,000 people, accounting for 24.5 percent of the growth, followed by Italy, Spain and Britain.

Cuba says tourism up 2% in 2008
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