U.S airlines show commitment to the future of the travel industry in Cuba

Posted: 21-Nov-16 10:29

Since the Obama administration relaxed rules on travel to Cuba and the United States resumed diplomatic relations with Cuba, the world’s tourism industry has been focused on Cuba and its anticipated influx of American visitors. However, it’s not yet clear how much of a success the industry will be as the island continues to struggle with building the infrastructure and airline business is still regulated.

U.S airlines show commitment to the future of  the travel industry in Cuba

Cuba is the talk of the tourism industry at the moment, following the announcement last year that the United States and the Caribbean nation would resume diplomatic relations after five decades of hostilities. There are some industry executives who are sceptical about whether the reported influx of travellers will be as high as anticipated.

Due to the five-decade-long travel and travel embargo between the two countries, it has been difficult to measure the potential success and demand of new flights to Cuba, particularly because it still remains off limits as a general holiday destination for Americans, and regulations are in place for many U.S air carriers.

Earlier this year, the first commercial scheduled flight travelled to Santa Clara in Cuba from Fort Lauderdale in the United States. The JetBlue flights was the first direct commercial service to fly to Cuba in more than half a century.

American Airlines was awarded more flights than any other U.S air carrier, including five services to the capital Havana, which will start later this year. There were a total of 110 daily flights to 10 destinations in Cuba available to U.S airlines.

Don Casey, the Senior Vice President of Revenue Management for American Airlines, commented:

“I think everyone is struggling a little bit in terms of selling in Cuba. There a lot of restrictions that are still in place that has made it difficult to sell."

Casey said the greatest strength for forward booking has been in Havana, where American has long had a charter operation.

Silver Airways is another airline that has recently been granted permission to operate new flights between Florida in the United States and nine destinations in Cuba. The new schedule of services began in September, and routes to tourist hotspots including Santa Clara, Camagüey, Cienfuego, Holguín, Santiago, Cayo Coco, Varadero, Cayo Largo, and Manzanillo.

While general tourism has not yet been approved as a reason for Americans to visit Cuba, residents can visit the island for educational, religious, academic and cultural and family purposes across 12 categories, and licences for these trips are no longer required.

The tropical island has recorded a significant increase in international tourists over recent months, and in the first six months of this year, there was a 61.2 per cent increase in American visitors. The United States has since become the third-largest source market for Cuba. 


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