Bookings to Cuba soar as travellers rush to visit island before embargo is fully lifted

Posted: 10-Nov-15 09:47

Cuba has seen a surge in bookings and tourist arrivals recently, following the recent resumed relations between the island and the United States. Travellers from other countries are keen to visit Cuba before it changes if and when the U.S-Cuba trade embargo is lifted after over 50 years of harsh trade restrictions.

Bookings to Cuba soar as travellers rush to visit island before embargo is fully lifted

Cuba has recorded a surge in bookings recently as travellers from countries all around the world rush to visit the island before its anticipated change if and when the U.S-Cuba travel embargo is lifted.

More than 10 million Americans are expected to visit the island of Cuba in the Caribbean every year if the 54-year-long travel embargo is lifted, and many other nationalities are keen to visit the island and soak up its old-world charm.

Tour operators and travel agents globally are experiencing a high demand of travellers planning trips to the island and many hotels in Havana are selling out months in advance.

The founder of Stubborn Mule Travel, Liddy Pleasants, said that customer enquiries for Cuba have increased by 80 per cent.

"There’s a real feeling that everyone wants to get there before it changes too much. Not just before the Americans arrive, but that suddenly there will be new imported goods rather than the lovely 1950s and 60s items people still use today,"

While the surge in tourists is good news for Cuba, many travellers are not aware that the country does not yet have the infrastructure to support these numbers, especially if the travel ban is lifted for Americans.

Cuba has just 61,000 hotel rooms, many of which are already booked for up to 18 months, and the private homestays (casa particulares) are rapidly rising in popularity and following a similar pattern where the very best fill up months ahead and others only provide the most basic amenities and cannot be booked in advance online.

Restaurants often run out of ingredients due to food shortages and ATMs are few and far between, and often empty.

The Cuban government has 53 investment projects in tourism underway to improve the situation, which includes the construction and opening of over 30 new hotels across Cuba, and the ministry of tourism has even hiked prices for government-run hotels, restaurants, tours and car rentals in an attempt to slow down the visitors.

The President of Insight Cuba, Tom Popper, said:

"They’ve raised prices to try to dampen down the demand. Ironically, it’s not having any effect, so they’re going to raise prices again.”

The changes are not expected to happen immediately in Cuba, so there is plenty of time to experience the country how it is so famously known, with vintage cars, music in the streets and bars, historic buildings, and locals puffing on Cuban cigars."


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