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Tourists trickle in to Cuba following pandemic slumber

Tourists from Spain take pictures at the Revolution square in Havana, Cuba, November 23, 2021. Picture taken on November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini

HAVANA: Cuban tourism operators breathed a sigh of relief this week as the first tourists in months returned in the capital Havana, providing a much-needed shot in the arm to the Caribbean island’s ailing economy.

Communist-run Cuba has vaccinated nearly its entire population with home-grown inoculations, prompting authorities last week to re-open the country’s borders to tourism after a nearly two-year hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic.

New infections have dropped off sharply across the country in recent weeks, according to official statistics.

Ernesto Hechevarria, a 55-year old tourism guide, told Reuters that foreign visitors would breathe life back into the city.

“Tourism is the engine of Cuba’s economy,” Hechevarria said as he watched tourists come in and out. “Now the economy is beginning to revive.”

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