HAVANA, June 24 (Xinhua) -- The ongoing global economic slowdown has affected Cuba's tourism sector, reducing its tourist arrivals from Europe by 4-10 percent in the first quarter of the year.
The number of British and Spanish visitors fell by 10 percent, followed by the number of Italian, French and German visitors by 6 percent, 5.5 percent and 4 percent respectively, said the Cuban National Statistics Office.
Canada, Cuba's largest source of tourists, saw a 1.8 percent drop in tourist arrivals in the same period. Canada contributed 2.4 million visitors to the Cuban tourism industry in 2009.
The Caribbean island state tried to compensate for this negative effect by opening up new markets abroad, the office said in its latest report.
Visitors from Russia and China have joined returning overseas Cubans to boost up by 1.2 percent the total tourist arrival in the first five months of this year.
Tourist arrivals from January to March rose by 0.7 percent overall against the corresponding period of last year but the figure rose by 4.1 percent in May thanks to an influx of Russian and Chinese visitors, said the office.
Compared with an annual total of 290,000 visits by overseas Cubans last year, the figure for returning overseas Cubans increased by 50 percent in the January-April period.
A total of 37,400 Russians visited Cuba in 2009, and the first four months of this year have seen an increase of 22 percent in the number of Russian visitors.