Americans Help Push Cuba Travel up 13%
Well, there is good news and bad: the good news is that American and European travel pushed Cuba travel to over 4 million visitors last year; up 13% over 2015. This was a record for tourism. Tourism is the second largest source of cash for Cuba, so this helps the country and hopefully helps the people.
The second largest cash source is an odd one…the export of doctors and medical services. Cuba is recognized for the number of doctors it produces (and its educational level in general) and doctors is one of their biggest exports.
It had been trading medical services to Venezuela in exchange for oil. This is where the bad news comes in. Venezuela had been Cuba’s largest trading partner, but it’s economy has been in ruin for some time. Plunging oil prices and socialist economic policies have left the country in ruin. It is definitely not a country you want to depend on.
So, it helps having Cuba travel up, but the economy overall contracted 1% instead of a 3% anticipated rise.
Here is quote from Yahoo News
Havana (AFP) – Cuba welcomed a record four million tourists in 2016, up 13 percent over last year, with much of the increase thanks to a crush of visitors from the US and Europe, officials said on Saturday.
Havana’s Ministry of Tourism said in a statement published in the Granma official newspaper that the island set a record for international visitors this year, exceeding projections by some six percent.
Tourism is the number two source of revenue on the cash-strapped island, second only to the export of doctors and other medical services.
Officials in Havana say the surge in US visitors is a result of the restored relations with the United States — a thaw first announced by US President Barack Obama and Cuba’s President Raul Castro almost exactly two years ago.
Although a decades-old US economic embargo remains in place, Obama has chipped away at many trade and travel restrictions, easing access to the communist island for many Americans.
The first US cruise ship to come to Cuba in more than 50 years docked in Havana in May. Regular flights between the two countries have resumed.
US companies like Airbnb and Netflix now operate in Cuba, and hotel group Starwood opened a Sheraton in Havana in June.
It seems like everything good in Cuba is followed by a negative reaction. See my post on Cuba Private Restaurants…Too Successful?
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