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Weekly report on Cuba's tourism industry
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Cuba: New Scenario for Tourism

The Cuban tourism industry, based on the natural, historical and cultural attractions of the archipelago, faces the challenge of the growing influx of visitors from the United States.

Even without approval from Washington to travel to the island as tourists, 161,233 Americans visited the various areas of the territory of the Caribbean island, endorsed by the 12 categories authorized by the White House for such activity.

The incentive for such behavior is in the process of normalization of relations between the two countries, with weight factors such as the visit by US President Barack Obama, to Havana.

It is noteworthy that the above figure is an increase of 76 percent compared to the balance of 2014, but the latest data show that the increase may be even higher.

Indeed, after the first quarter, more than 94,000 Americans were counted, showing a growth that reaches 93 percent.

Thus, the Caribbean country moves toward a record of tourists that could range around 3.85 million at year-end 2016.

Cayo Largo. View of the sea
Cabo de San Antonio. View from the Roncali Lighthouse
Jardines del Rey Marina.

In that environment, the pressure on Cuban hotel infrastructure makes it insufficient to cope with the dynamic increase in the flow of visitors and reviving cruise mode.

Among recent signs are the start of travel by the shipping Fanthom, a subsidiary of Carnival, who dedicated his ship Adonia for a weekly tour that includes Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

In addition, Royal Caribbean aspires to join this business and has already asked the Cuban authorities to operate 72 arrivals between Havana and Miami for next season.

Moreover, the company MSC, which landed on the island in December 2015 with the Opera ship, wants to include their Harmony boat, with capacity for 2,600 passengers, in the upcoming winter cruise season.

In the coming months, 100 direct flights between the two countries, which will facilitate access by air and must be reflected in a lower cost of tickets, should join this process.

This also means for Cuba the need to modernize the airport terminals to support the expected increase in operations, taking into account the activation of new links between the island and Europe, in addition to Asia.

While Americans cannot do tourism in Cuba, a restriction that only the Congress can remove, the last packet of relaxations approved by Obama includes the possibility to come individually, within the category of "educational travel from town to town".

In that regard, experts in the leisure market said that once such prohibitions cease to exist, one million US citizens would visit Cuba, main source market for the Caribbean.

Hence the importance of recruiting new spaces for accommodation and extra activities, since parallel the island stands as a focus of interest for various options.

Indeed, from the iconic concert of the British band The Rolling Stones, visits by celebrities from the show business, the filming of the eighth sequel of Fast and Furious and even the fashion of Chanel, numerous events that unfold also constitute an attractive difficult to avoid by tourists.

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