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Cuba hits 2.6m tourist arrivals for 2015

Tourist arrivals in Cuba totalled more than 2.6 million as of September 30, the National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI), reports.

There were 2.62 million arrivals during the first nine months of this year, up by some 400,000, or 18 per cent, from the same period in 2014.

Canada was the top source of visitors, with more than one million, the ONEI said.

In September alone, historically one of the slowest months for arrivals, Cuba welcomed nearly 200,000 tourists, a figure that was up 27.4 per cent from the same month last year.

Germany, Britain, France, Spain and Mexico were the other top sources of visitors, while Haiti, Costa Rica, Japan, Israel, Ireland, Poland, Australia and Venezuela posted strong gains, the ONEI said.

The government has implemented a plan to build several hotels and renovate existing properties to meet growing demand for accommodation in Havana and other cities, Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said.

The plan calls for adding more than 13,600 rooms in "sun and beach destinations" in 2016, the official Agencia Prensa Latina reported.

The tourism boom coincides with the restoration of relations between Cuba and the United States in July after more than a half century of hostilities.

In the first seven months after President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions, about 88,900 Americans arrived in Cuba, a figure that was up 54 per cent from 2014 and is expected to grow further by the end of the year.

Tourism is the second-largest source of income for the island, generating $US1.7 billion ($A2.36 billion) in revenues in the first half of 2015.