Cuba sees 74 pct jump in US visitors in 2016

turistas-cuba-eeuuHAVANA, Jan. 12th In 2016, 74 percent more US citizens took advantage of improved bilateral ties to visit Cuba, compared to the year before, the Cuban government announced on Wednesday.

The officla dada shows that in 2016, 284,937 Americans visited Cuba, for a 74 percentincrease in comparison with 2015,” Josefina Vidal, director of US affairs at Cuba’s foreign ministry, posted on Twitter.

While US citizens are still banned from freely traveling to Cuba, the administration of outgoing President Barack Obama has relaxed restrictions, allowing travel for business, education, religious or humanitarian purposes.

President-elect Donald Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has hinted he may revert such policies to pressure Cuba into making more concessions to Washington.

Cuba has seen a tourism boom since Havana and the White House agreed in 2014 to work to normalize ties after half a century of animosity.

Regular commercial flights from US cities to Cuban destinations were relaunched in August. Today seven airlines operate nearly 20 flights a day from the US to Havana.

Cruises have also increased, with companies from Spain, Russia, Canada and the US, including Cuba, on their sailing itineraries.

In 2016, Cuba saw a record 4 million international visitors, 13 percent more than in 2015.

The tourism industry is hoping to attract more visitors, although it lacks the infrastructure for rapid growth.