China becomes top market for Cuba's legendary cigars

China becomes top market for Cuba's legendary cigars

HAVANA -- Cuba's state cigar monopoly, Habanos S.A., said on Tuesday that China had displaced Spain last year as its top market but rising demand in the Asian giant could not compensate for declines in sales elsewhere, with global revenue down 4% to US$507 million. Curbs on travel last year due to the pandemic dealt a serious blow to demand from countries reliant on tourism as well as sales at duty free, Habanos said in a statement. Cuba's hand-rolled cigars, which include brands such as Cohiba, Montecristo and Partagas, are considered by many as the best in the world. Habanos usually holds a festival early in the year for wealthy tobacco aficionados and retailers during which they tour plantations and factories and meet in the evenings to puff on Cuban smokes at extravagant parties. This year, though, with Cuba grappling with its worst outbreak of COVID-19 yet and other countries also struggling to curb contagion, it is instead holding three days of virtual events, which kicked off on Tuesday. "2020 has been a challenging year not just for our business …
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