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Cuba earns over 1 bln USD in tourism revenue in first half of 2014

HAVANA, Aug. 19 (Xinhua) -- Revenues from international tourism reached 1.077 billion U.S. dollars in the first half of 2014, or 4 percent more than that over the same period last year, Cuba's National Statistics and Information Bureau reported Tuesday.

The figure represented nearly 60 percent of the total tourism revenue forecast for the year, the agency said.

Between January and June, retail sales earned the most among the tourism services, followed by transportation, food and beverage, and accommodations, the data showed.

Visitors spent the most on food and beverage, which registered 422 million dollars, or 39 percent of total revenue, followed by 367 million dollars, or 34 percent, for accommodations, which traditionally represents the largest chunk of earnings.

A total of 1,660,055 international visitors arrived in Cuba over the six-month period, 3.9 percent more than that in the same period of 2013, the data showed.

The industry is aimed to draw 3 million visitors a year, and to that end the government of Cuban leader Raul Castro is investing heavily in the sector.

Tourism is Cuba's second-largest source of foreign revenue, earning around 2.6 billion dollars a year, after the export of professional services, mainly in the area of healthcare, which brings in more than 10 billion dollars.

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