Cuba welcomes record-breaking numbers in U.S tourists during first half of 2016

Posted: 10-Sep-16 11:18

The number of U.S travellers visiting Cuba has increased significantly this year, with a 61.2 per cent rise in the first six months. New licences that have been approved by the Obama’s administration allow Americans to visit Cuba individually rather than in group travel under 12 different categories, following recent resumed relations between the United States and Cuba.

Cuba welcomes record-breaking numbers in U.S tourists during first half of 2016

Cuba has recorded a significant increase in visitors from the United States this year, following resumed relations between the two countries. The number of tourists from the U.S increased by 61.2 per cent in the first half of the year.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics and Information (ONEI), the United States has become the third largest market for incoming travellers after Canada, and Cubans living overseas. New licences were approved by Obama’s administration that allows individual travellers to visit Cuba under 12 categories without the need to travel in a group as required previously.

Tourism is currently prohibited under the trade embargo that was enforced by the U.S in 1961. The 12 categories that allow Americans to travel to Cuba without permission include visiting family living in Cuba, journalism, professional or educational research, professional meetings or conferences, education, religious purposes, sports, people to people programmes and humanitarian projects.

The data reveals that overall tourist numbers in the first half of 2016 have grown by 11.7 per cent, compared to the same period in 2015. A total number of 2,147,919 visitors travelled to Cuba between January and July this year, which is 25,895 more than last year.

The increased U.S tourism numbers were recorded before the recent launch of scheduled commercial flights between the two countries. Last week, JetBlue became the first airline to operate a flight to Cuba from the United States in more than 60 years. The service departed from Fort Lauderdale and arrived in Santa Clara.

Cuba also recorded an increase in holidaymakers from Germany, with an gowth of 69.2 per cent. One of the reasons behind the rise of visitors is said to the entry of German air carrier including Air Berlin, Condor and Eurowings.

The country has experienced an influx of tourists this year, as travellers flock to the Caribbean island to experience its unique old-world charm following the travel and trade embargo. Many cars, appliances and electrical items have not changed since the 1960s, and tourists are curious to catch a glimpse before it inevitably changes.

Despite the positive tourism numbers the country’s infrastructure is not yet ready for the millions of anticipated arrivals in the near future. Many hotel developments are under construction, new highways are being built, and talks are in place to provide more reliable internet and mobile phone access for visitors.


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