by Cuba Journal Staff
A new poll by University of South Florida (Sarasota-Manatee) researchers shows that Americans overwhelmingly support the idea of traveling to Cuba for tourism.
The poll shows 91 percent of respondents support lifting travel restrictions to Cuba and a slightly higher margin say the Cuban embargo should end. Another remarkable finding is that nearly half indicated they might visit the island as tourists if restrictions are ever removed.
The national poll elicited 467 responses and posed 20 questions. Some touched on the trade embargo, travel and whether Cuba should be removed from the government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism; most questions focused on tourism.
Among other findings:
- Thirty-seven percent would travel to Cuba “as soon as they believed Cuba was ready for Americans. “
- Twenty-one percent would travel there “when there is an American embassy.”
- Nineteen percent would plan a trip to Cuba for “next year’s vacation” if the travel ban was removed.
- Fifteen percent have “no intention to travel” there.
- Eight percent would travel to Cuba, “within the first year” of restrictions being removed.
According to Dr. Cihan Cobanoglu director of the M3 Center for Hospitality Technology & Innovation at USF Sarasota-Manatee, “It shows me that Americans are open to the idea of change, and that they would support a change in a policy that has been in place the last 50-plus years.”
Reading the narratives, he added he was struck by how many respondents favored “an authentic” experience rooted in Cuban culture and that many preferred the island’s tourism centers and beaches refrain from becoming “too Americanized.”
Recently formed Engage Cuba, an independent public policy organization dedicated to normalizing relations with Cuba, is one entity advocating for the sentiments reflected in the poll. ASTA, The American Society of Travel Agents, a recent addition to Engage Cuba’s membership list, explains it is joining, “in an effort to generate support from American businesses and non-profit groups to reform U.S. travel and trade restrictions with Cuba,” according to a statement.