[dropcap type=”1″]D[/dropcap]espite the limitations for American citizens to travel to Cuba, the arrival of US visitors to the island increased by 54% in the period from January to July 2015. This figure goes hand in hand with the historic thaw between the governments of Havana and Washington. A large number of American tourists in Cuba in the future is expected to change dramatically the tourism industry in the island.
AP reports that University of Havana professor Jose Perello published a paper indicating 88, 996 Americans went to Cuba between January and July 2015. This is during the first seven months of the diplomatic normalization between the United States and the island after 50 years of rupture. These figures do not include the Cuban Americans traveling to Cuba in the same period (164,000).
The tourism industry is one of the pillars of the Cuban economy. Income from tourism amounts to over 2,500 million dollars every year, and thousands of jobs depend on it in the hotel and services sectors. More American tourists in Cuba would benefit the locals involved in renting rooms in private homes (‘casa particular‘), taxi drivers, artisans, and small private restaurants catering to tourists.
In 2014 the island exceeded three million tourists from all over the world. The tourism industry in Cuba has been dominated in recent years by visitors from Canada, followed by Germany, Italy, and Spain. However, it is estimated that if the U.S. embargo is lifted, there could be as many as three million additional U.S. tourists visiting Cuba. This will mean a combined impact of upward of a $5-billion infusion into the Cuban economy.
The estimates for this year are optimistic: about 145,000 American tourists in Cuba, or about 50,000 more than those who arrived in 2014. For Americans looking to take advantage of eased travel restrictions to Cuba the time to plan is now, learn more by visiting us at Cuba Travel and Vacations.