More Americans are going to Cuba, which makes the U.S. the second
tourism source for the island nation after Canada, according to a new
report. Despite a travel embargo that’s been in effect for half a
century, 173,550 Americans went to Cuba in January through March.
“The data confirms, although the Cuban government does not recognize it
publicly, that the United States, even with the effect of the embargo,
is the second greatest source of tourists to Cuba after Canada,” Emilio
Morales, president of U.S.-based Havana Consulting Group, wrote in a
report provided to the Associated Press.
“Most of the U.S. travelers are Cuban-Americans visiting family but
others have no ties to the island and travel to participate in academic
and cultural programs,” the AP reports, noting most flights originate
The number of Americans visiting Cuba has been on a steady increase. In
2007, 244,699 Americans went to Cuba. By 2013 that number had more than
doubled to almost 600,000. That lags behind Canada, which sent 1.1
million visits to Cuba in 2013. The report also said that the average
traveler spends $3,200 per person during their stay.
The report attributes the travel boost to a change in travel
restrictions in 2009. Under the George W. Bush administration, Cuban
Americans had been limited to visiting the island once every three
years. The Obama administration removed the limit and also increased the
number of people-to-people cultural tours for non Cuban Americans.
How high could U.S. tourism numbers go? They were on pace to set a
record this year, but another obstacle has emerged. In February, Cuba
suspended visa services in the U.S. because it couldn’t find a bank to
handle accounts of its diplomatic missions in Washington, D.C., and New
York, media reports said.
“The decision threatened to disrupt a recent surge in travel between the
two countries, ” Reuters reported.
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Source: Number of U.S. travelers going to Cuba is on the rise, report
says – latimes.com –