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  • Over 2 million people have visited Cuba since the start of the year.

    Over 2 million people have visited Cuba since the start of the year. | Photo: Reuters

Published 11 July 2015

Cuba's tourism intake is soaring, but the government says more people could be visiting the island nation if the U.S. blockade was lifted.

Cuba's tourism sector is surging, with over 2 million international visitors touching down in the country since the start of 2015, according to figures released Friday.

“These results are indicative of positioning of Cuban tourism as a destination of peace, health and safety, as well as recognition of our country internationally,” Cuba's tourism ministry said in a statement published by state newspaper Granma.

According to the ministry, the first half of the year saw 16 percent more international tourists than the same period in 2014. Last year was itself a record breaker for Cuban tourism, seeing the largest tourist intake in decades.

According to the tourism ministry, the majority of visitors are now coming from countries including Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, United States and Argentina.

Due to rising visitor numbers, the ministry said its working to improve Cuba's tourism infrastructure.

“This, combined with the hospitality of the Cuban people, encourages everyone who visits us to feel at home,” the ministry said.

The upbeat assessment of Cuba's tourism sector came days after the transport ministry issued its own report that found cruise ship tourism had spiked five-fold over the past three years. According to the report, over 62,000 cruise ship passengers have stopped by Cuba since the start of the year – up from just under 7,000 in 2012.

The ministry said increases “"could have been even greater if not for the inhuman measures imposed on us by the U.S. blockade which substantially hurts maritime activity.”

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