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People open a box of cigars on display at the 19th Habanos Festival in Havana, Cuba, Feb. 27, 2017.

Cuba’s monopoly cigar company kicked off the festival that brings visitors to the island for five days of tours of plantations and factories.

Sales of Cuba’s legendary cigars rose 5 percent last year to $445 million, defying stagnation in the global luxury goods market, manufacturer Habanos S.A. said on Monday at the opening of the Caribbean island’s annual cigar festival.

Habanos, which makes brands including Cohiba, Monte Cristo and Romeo y Julieta, said it expects moderate sales growth this year as it continues to tap the Middle East, Asia and other new markets.

“We are quite happy we were able to grow during a year that was in truth quite challenging,” Vice President of Development Javier Terrés told Reuters after holding a news conference hazy with smoke as journalists puffed on complimentary cigars.

Cuba’s monopoly cigar company was kicking off the festival that attracts wealthy tobacco aficionados and retailers from around the world for five days of extravagant parties and tours of plantations and factories.

Habanos dominates the global market for hand-rolled, premium cigars except in the United States due to Washington’s half-century trade embargo against Cuba. The United States is the world’s biggest cigar market.

American enthusiasts have had slightly better access to Cuban cigars since former President Barack Obama two years ago unveiled a Cuba policy aiming to normalize relations.

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