The head of the Roman Catholic church is due to arrive in Havana, the first leg of his visit to Cuba and the United States.

Pope Francis is set to arrive on Saturday and will spend four days on the communist Caribbean island before flying to the US capital, Washington DC. 

It is the first time for Francis to visit both countries as pope, who has been credited with helping bring about a thaw in relations between the two former Cold War rivals.

On Saturday, the government launched an effort to bring crowds into the streets of Havana, offering a day's pay, snacks and transportation to state workers who gather along the pope's route from the airport to his residence at the papal ambassador's home, according to the Associated Press. 

University students also have been recruited to come out for the pope, the report said. 

Al Jazeera's Latin America Editor Lucia Newman reports from Havana.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies