Nearly 72,000 U.S. visitors made it to Cuba in first trimester of 2016

Posted: 25-Jul-16 08:14

The number of American travellers heading to Cuba over the first three months of 2016, has reached new heights, with 94 per cent more U.S. visitors arriving to the island when compared to the same period last year. This upwards trend is expected to continue growing with the reestablishment of commercial direct routes between both countries starting this September.

Nearly 72,000 U.S. visitors made it to Cuba in first trimester of 2016

Despite the fact that their travel to Cuba is still limited, U.S. visitors flocked the island in numbers never seen since before the triumph of the Cuban Revolution and the subsequent implementation of the U.S. embargo; which, after nearly six decades has been considerably relaxed by Obama’s administration.

According to figures released by Cuba’s Oficina Nacional de Estadisticas (National Statistics Office) total of 71,815 American travellers touched down in Cuba during the first three months of 2016, a figure that indicates a whopping 93.9 per cent growth year-on-year compared to the same period in 2015. In fact, the number of U.S. visitors in this year’s first trimester put them in the fourth largest group of foreign visitors to Cuba, only surpassed by Canadians, Cuban expats and Germans.

This significant growth in the number of U.S. visitors to Cuba has been made possible by the easing of the trade embargo, which now allows all U.S. citizens to visit the island as long as they fall within 12 categories listed for travel. The efforts made by Obama’s administration to loosen up rules on travel to Cuba mean that American travellers don’t even have to wait for approval to fly to Cuba any longer. The process of applying to visit Cuba has been significantly simplified and it’s now as easy as ticking a box, signing an affidavit and taking off the next day.

So, perhaps this growth is not as surprising as it seems, especially given the fact that only a few years back Cuba stood as the enigmatic forbidden fruit that puzzled many well-seasoned U.S. travellers yet only a handful could visit. When the doors on easier, hassle-free travel to Cuba opened, many stood at the ready to jump on the opportunity of seeing the island for the first time. This was further enticed by the arrival of celebrities and high-profile visitors; who were among the first to put Cuba on the map for many Americans and the ones chiefly responsible for making Cuba a hot, trending and fashionable destination.

And if 2015 proved a record-breaking year for tourism in Cuba, 2016 is looking highly likely to beat past figures and make history once again. Especially when it comes to the rocketing number of U.S. visitors, expected to reach new heights when direct commercial flights linking the two nations are resumed starting this September.

Silver Airways, one of the six airlines approved for travel to Cuba by the DOT, will become the first U.S. airline in over half a century to touch down in Cuba’s eastern city of Santa Clara on 1st September 2016. American Airlines will follow with a Miami-Cienfuegos route launching on 7th September, and, with roundtrip ticket prices starting at $262 USD (compared to the average charter flight cost oscillating between $400 and $800 USD), no doubt more and more Americans will be arriving in Cuba by the bucket-load. The only big question mark that remains is: will Cuba be able to cope with the growing influx of U.S. travellers?


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