Will Cuba cope with impending tourist boom?

Posted: 26-Feb-16 14:20

Nearly all major US airlines are hoping to fly to Cuba by summer, with up to 110 flights from America to the island every day. But it remains to be seen whether Cuba will have the infrastructure to cater for an expected surge in tourism.

Will Cuba cope with impending tourist boom?

Having already experienced an influx of American visitors following President Barack Obama's decision to relax travel restrictions last year, Cuba is preparing itself for another avalanche of tourism as US airlines vie for flight routes over the coming months.

Indeed, with the US Department of Transportation scheduled to award new commercial flight paths this summer, nearly all of America's major airline companies have announced their intentions to bid for a slice of the pie – but questions are now being raised as to how Cuba will cope with the changes.

With as many as 110 flights between the US and Cuba set to take place every single day, there are fears that the country's dated tourism infrastructure will initially struggle to cope with such a sharp spike in demand, with the availability of both hotels and ATMs currently two major areas of concern.

Book early to avoid disappointment

So great is the demand for tourist accommodation compared to the current level of supply in Cuba that most holiday companies are advising visitors book their trips many months in advance in order to ensure they can reserve rooms in decent hotels and find a rental car.

One tour operator, Cox and Kings, claims that many hotels and tours exploring Cuba have already sold out for the whole of 2016 – forcing travellers to look to nearby countries like Colombia and Costa Rica for their holidays – while what accommodation is still available is largely considered too basic.

Nevertheless, US transportation secretary, Anthony Foxx, is confident Cuba will rise to the challenge of increased tourism by improving their hotel and transport infrastructure ahead of the new flights. Mr Foxx said:

"Obviously with the demand spiking as a result of this [the new commercial flight routes] there'll be capacity issues that they'll have to address. They recognise that they need to grow their capabilities and I get the sense that they're really serious about doing it."


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