Can Cuba Keep Up With US Tourism?
PHOTO: Crowds line the deck on the Adonia in Havana. (Photo via Twitter)
On Wednesday, the Cuban tourism minister revealed the country is trying to deal with an influx of travelers as the number of visitors from the United States has nearly doubled this year.
According to Reuters.com, Cuba received a record 3.5 million visitors in 2015, but the numbers this year are growing even faster, as 1.5 million tourists have visited the country so far in 2016, an increase of 13.5 percent from last year.
Of the 1.5 million visitors so far in 2016, 94,000 of the tourists were American citizens—a 93-percent jump from the previous time period last year—and another 115,000 were Cuban-Americans.
The tourism influx isn’t just from U.S. citizens, though, as European tourism in Cuba climbed 60 percent through April of this year. The increase in visitors has led to a 37 percent increase in visitors to the country’s capital city, Havana, which is stretching its infrastructure to the limit.
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Havana isn’t the only city in Cuba dealing with a booming demand, as the country has stepped up plans to build more hotels and expand Havana’s Jose Marti International Airport. In addition to new construction, many existing hotels are raising prices as the demand continues to rise.
The increase in visitors already this year and the additional influx that will come when scheduled commercial airline service from the U.S. begins later in 2016 have raised questions about how Cuba will deal with the additional tourists.
While the increase in visitors has strained the existing infrastructure in Cuba, overall satisfaction from tourists taking trips to the Caribbean nation has increased, as nearly half of last year's tourists were returning after previous visits.
“With the increase in demand there have occurred problems with the confirmation of reservations and some irritation with delays at the airports, most of all in Havana,” Cuban Minister Manuel Marrero said in a statement about the influx.
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