Cuban cigar sales were up eight percent in 2013, reaching $447 million, with strongest market gains in China, Habanos SA said Monday. The increase "demonstrates the strength and positive trend of the world cigar trade despite restrictions on tobacco consumption," Ana Lopez, the company's director of marketing, told reporters. While Europe remains the top taker of the famous products, the greatest gains were seen in China, added vice president ofdevelopment Javier Terres Ercilla. "All this makes us think the Cuban cigar is in good health," he said. Country-specific, the main markets of the entirely handmade cigars are Spain, France, China, Germany, Switzerland, Cuba, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates. The United States, the biggest global cigar market, is off-limits for Habanos SA -- a Cuban-Spanish joint venture -- due to an economic embargo imposed on communist Cuba by Washington more than half a century ago. Habanos SA released its latest numbers at the opening of the Cuban capital's annual cigar festival, which draws participants from around the world. As in years past, the festival features tours of tobacco plantations and cigar factories and culminates Friday with a gala dinner during which luxury humidors will be auctioned off. Proceeds -- which reached $1.1 million last year -- will benefit Cuban health services. Tobacco is one of Cuba's top exports, behind nickel and biotech products.