Possible End of an Era for Canadian Travel to Cuba

Earlier this year President Obama lifted the restrictions on Cuban Americans visiting Cuba, a move that many think will pave the way for opening Cuba travel to all Americans. 

If and when that happens, Americans will certainly flock there in droves!The proximity (only 90 miles from Florida!), the novelty of something new, and the desire to try the ‘forbidden’ fruit will result in a huge influx of tourists. Some estimates are that a half million or more Americans could arrive in the first year, with that number growing quickly as air service and infrastructure catches up with demand. 

The big question – can Cuba handle it? 

They currently have about 55000 hotel rooms with 10000 more under construction, and 2.3 Million visitors were hosted in 2008. possible next step by Obama could be to allow ‘non-tourism’ travel, which would lead to an immediate jump in visitors, but help stagger the growth.  Educational and cultural groups would seize the opportunity to experience the country that has been a mystery for so long.

Canada was Cuba’s top market last year, with over 800,000 visitors, and the Cuban Tourism authorities maintain that they will manage growth appropriately and that they will remain loyal to Canada.  Even so, Cuba has traditionally been a value destination for Canadians, and that could change.  Even two to three hundred thousand more visitors could put a strain on supply and we would definitely see prices rise as we  enter into years of double digit growth for Cuban tourism.

The message for Canadians?  Go now.

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