Since the thawing of longstanding oppositional relations between the United States and Cuba in the past year, the island nation has seen a serious uptick in American visitors. According to reports, visits to Cuba are up 36 percent in a five-month period in 2015 when compared to the previous year.
The Associated Press reported on the recent numbers, with the news organization given exclusive access to the data by way of Cuban economist, Jose Luis Perello Cabrera. What makes this spike in tourists from the States interesting is that travel between the two countries is largely prohibited. Americans are only allowed to visit Cuba is by way of special “people-to-people” trips in support of cultural exchanges or religious mission outreach efforts.
However, it appears that the enforcement of the travel ban has been lax at best, allowing Americans to take in the sights and sounds of the capital city of Havana, the beaches of Varadero, the resorts of Cayo Coco, and the culture of Santiago de Cuba without the fuss of sanctions.
It isn’t just Americans who are taking in Cuba as there has also been a 14 percent rise in tourists from around the world. United States and Cuban officials are still hammering out details and have recently completed a fourth round of negotiations. Embassies in the respective nations will be forthcoming as soon as talks are finalized.
To focus solely on the numbers, 51,458 Americans visited Cuba between Jan. 1 and May 9; 37,459 visited in the same period last year. As also noted by Cabrera, who works at the University of Havana’s tourism studies department, around 13,000 Americans visited Cuba during the marked period, perhaps to avoid the travel restrictions.
The countries that Americans traveled through include Jamaica, Mexico, the Bahamas, and the Cayman Islands.
SOURCE: Business Insider, AP | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty