Americans Opt For Cruises To Cuba Following Changing Travel Restrictions

Americans Opt For Cruises To Cuba Following Changing Travel RestrictionsHAVANA, Aug. 1th As uncertainty regarding travel restrictions to Cuba abounds, many Americans are deciding against visiting the Caribbean island in 2018 according to new reports.

In June 2018, Reuters found that 68,000 Americans (excluding Americans of Cuban origins on family visits) traveled to Cuba, a 5% increase from last year. However, the number of U.S. visitors to Cuba during the first half of 2018 fell 24%  to 248, 000 Americans.

During that period, 50% of U.S. visitors arrived on cruise ships, compared with 25% last year.“The cruises are better than nothing,” said John McAuliff, executive director of Fund for Reconciliation and Development Coordinator.

McAuliff has been working to promote American visits to Cuba for over 20 years. “Its just the irony that its the shallowest of the experiences and [there] is no problem with the Trump administration.”

In 2017, the Caribbean island received a record-setting number of foreign visitors. According to the government, 4.7 million people visited, with 619,000 from the United States. It was an 18% in visitors from 2016, and brought in $3 billion tourism revenue to Cuba. American travel restrictions were changed in November 2017.

A portion of the American visitor slump can be attributed to 2017’s devastating hurricane season, says Reuters. However, according to their sources, President Trump’s administration’s hostility to the Cuban government, as well as efforts to restrict Americans’ independent travel to the island, has also worked to erode American visitor numbers.

Since November, the cancellation of the “people-to-people” trips has put many Americans in a tailspin. The 12 categories of licenses for other types of travel like humanitarian or educational still exist and Americans can still travel independently to Cuba, but many are confused.

According to a recent survey by Allianz Global Assistance, there was 27% drop in American interest in traveling to Cuba from 2017 to 2018. They found that 55% of Americans say that they do not understand the current travel restrictions and feel uncertain.

While some boutique tour operators are saying that the current slump is good and will help preserve authentic experiences, economic experts say that it could be damaging to owners of private restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts, as well as the Cuban government.