After Rough Year for Tourism, More Americans Are Traveling to Cuba Again
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
After a rough year filled with hurricanes and travel restrictions from foreign countries, Cuba’s tourism sector is finally beginning to bounce back — most notably with American tourists.
Data from the Cuban Tourism Ministry shows that the numbers of US visitors to Cuba, though still in decline as compared to when the island first opened up to them, are starting to climb upward again.
US travelers to Cuba in September 2018 reached a total of 460,646 tourists, according to Reuters, which reviewed the statistics from the tourism ministry. That figure is still down 8.8% year-over-year, but it’s a major uptick when compared to the 24% year-over-year decline recorded in June 2018.
The recent rebound in US visitors is a good sign for Cuba’s tourism growth, which is still working to overcome recent hardships. In 2017 the Caribbean island nation faced dual difficulties in attracting American tourists: One being Hurricane Irma, which slammed into Cuba in September 2017; The other being diplomatic sanctions for Cuba and travel restrictions for US travelers implemented by US President Donald Trump in June 2017. These restrictions re-imposed many of the travel restrictions that former US President Barack Obama lifted during his administration and made it more difficult for US tourists to visit Cuba.
As recently as November, the Trump administration was adding names to a blacklist of tourist attractions, which seemed to be dampening US tourism there.
The large majority of American travelers visited Cuba on a cruise ship, a popular option as the cruise companies sort out difficult logistics and legal footwork in the wake of the Trump administration’s restrictions. September’s number of US tourists that came to Cuba via cruise was twice that for the same time in 2017.
On the other hand, 222,000 Americans flew to the island in September to stay in hotels there. That’s a 42% drop year-over-year, and explains why many US airlines have been cutting their service to Cuba.
Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero said in November that despite the first half of 2018’s lagging tourism statistics, this year’s numbers are on par to beat 2017’s, topping 4.7 million visitors. Next year, he predicts the amount of visitors to clock in at 5.1 million total.
Collin Laverty, president of US tour group Cuban Educational Travel, told Reuters his bookings were up 25% in 2018. As for the nation’s uptick in tourism, Laverty says: “You can feel it in the streets if you walk around Old Havana.”
Welcome to The Points Guy!
Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.
- Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 bonus miles after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer ends 8/3/2022.
- Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs up to two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
- Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
- Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide including takeout and delivery in the U.S., and at U.S. supermarkets.
- Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
- Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $80 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
- Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
- Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck® after you apply through any Authorized Enrollment Provider. If approved for Global Entry, at no additional charge, you will receive access to TSA PreCheck.
- Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
- No Foreign Transaction Fees.
- $250 Annual Fee.
- Terms Apply.
- See Rates & Fees