2018 has been tough for Cuban tourism. Thanks to Hurricane Irma and the Trump administration implementing travel restrictions on U.S. citizens that President Obama lifted during his administration, American travelers haven’t booked travel to the Caribbean island at the same rate they did when the travel embargo was lifted.
But data from the Cuban Tourism Ministry is showing that while the number of American tourists visiting is still down 8.8 percent, 460,646 US tourists visited the island in the first nine months of the year, according to the statistics the Tourism Ministry shared with Reuters. Many of the tourists coming to visit the vibrant city are opting to go by cruise ship with carriers like Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corporation, and Royal Caribbean Cruises who offer their guests a chance to spend the day sightseeing on the island. A study found that the number of Americans traveling to Cuba by cruise ships has doubled since 2017.
Though this is still contributing to tourism in Cuba, the 42 percent decline in visitors coming over with the help of airlines like Delta, American Airlines, and JetBlue is affecting the economy. Many travelers that fly in spend more time on the island supporting the local hotels, private bed and breakfasts, and restaurants while cruise passengers spend minimal time on the island. The lull in air travel is even causing airlines to suspend their routes to Havana.
There is good news. A Reuters survey of U.S. agencies that plan trips for Americans noted that bookings were starting recovering. With all of the changes to the U.S. travel restrictions, it can be difficult to map out how to navigate planning a trip to the once forbidden country, but thanks to insight from other travelers and the inspiration you’ll get from their photos — it will be worth all of the research and planning!