It is no surprise that there is a rapid increase in Americans traveling to Cuba.
Authoritative rankings are pouring in and they consistently rave about Cuba’s unique culture, architecture, art, music, rum, cigars, beaches and more.
For example, in January 2017, U.S. travelers to Cuba totaled 43,200, a 125% increase compared to the same month in 2016, according to Cuba government statistics. Regionally, last year Cuba rose to the second most traveled destination in the Caribbean after the Dominican Republic.
Here are some recent ratings and expert comments related to Cuba as a desired travel destination:
- According to Brendan Sainsbury, a Cuba expert for travel guide Lonely Planet, Cuba is the travel destination of the year. Sainsbury calls Havana, “one of the world’s great cities.”
- Cuba Tops Best Caribbean Islands Ranking for 2017
- Caya Largo, Cuba Ranks #4 in World’s Best 25 Beaches
Plenty of Room for Growth
Despite the recent surge in visitor traffic since Cuba’s detente with the U.S. beginning in 2015, Cuba as a whole runs little risk of becoming overrun by foreign tourists. In fact, there is plenty of scope for expansion. One common indicator of a nation’s tourism potential is the ratio of international tourist arrivals relative to its population. By way of comparison, this ratio in the Dominican Republic is 0.49, in Costa Rica 0.53, and in Jamaica 0.76, whereas in Cuba the ratio of tourists to the population had only reached 0.26 in 2014. (Source: Tourism in Cuba, Riding the Wave Toward Sustainable Prosperity)
To some observers, Cuba’s Varadero peninsula is already over-crowded, yet its hotel density is low compared to other similar destinations such as Mexico (Cancún) or in many other summertime beach resorts worldwide (ie. the Spanish Costa Brava, Chile’s Viña del Mar, or New York’s Coney Island) – all falling well short of the density in Brazil’s Copacabana.
Should the Cuban government’s ambitious hotel expansion programs come to fruition, only a small fraction of the 1,400-plus islands and bays along the island’s 5,746 kilometers of coastline will have been developed. Nevertheless, even this limited growth will have to be carefully managed if the new influx is to avoid bringing with it environmental damage.