According to Cuban officials, the island has been visited by 2 million foreign tourists so far in 2016, 11.9% more than in the same period in 2015.
Cuba has achieved 2 million visitors 27 days earlier than last year, according to the Ministry of Tourism.
Canada continues as the leading source of tourists, followed by Germany, Great Britain, US, France, Italy, Mexico and Argentina.
The birth of a new tourism market is a rare thing to witness. In fact, it is not entirely accurate to describe Cuba as a new tourism market, given the country’s history as a booming travel destination prior to the 1959 Revolution and more recently with non-American visitors.
But Cuba’s newness to Americans is causing the island nation to brace forvgrowth from its massive neighbor. At a recent investment conference about Cuba, Southwest Airlines’ Director of International Business, Steve Swan, suggested, a “huge influx” of Americans is expected in Cuba. The start of scheduled flights from the US to Cuba is expected to commence later this year and will bring huge numbers of additional travelers.
In terms of overall tourism demand, Cuba received a record 3.52 million visitors last year, up 17.4% from 2014, making it second to the Dominican Republic in tourist visitors in the Caribbean. Digging a little deeper shows a more striking statistic; only 160,000 (non Cuban-American) US citizens visited Cuba last year. That compares to 20 million Americans who visited Mexico over the same period.
A recent poll suggested 37% of Americans are considering a trip to Cuba – especially among the prized affluent millennial segment. That’s more people than is reasonable to forecast, but the point is that Cuba has visibility on massive growth in its travel and tourism sector (presently 50% of the economy).
Last week, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) granted multiple commercial flight frequencies between the US and Cuba.
The flights will be the first commercial flight service to Cuba from the US in more than a half century. Approved US airlines still require approval from the Cuban government but such approval is expected shortly.
The US DOT has approved six domestic airlines to begin scheduled flights from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Chicago, Philadelphia and Minneapolis/St Paul to Cuba, beginning this fall.
The nine Cuban cities that will receive the flights are Camaguey, Cayo Coco, Cayo Largo, Cienfuegos, Holguin, Manzanillo, Matanzas, Santa Clara and Santiago de Cuba, although notably not yet Havana.
The carriers that have been approved are American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.
Here is essential information for travel to Cuba from the US.