Fewer Americans Looking To Visit Cuba

by Richard D'Ambrosio
Fewer Americans Looking To Visit Cuba

The U.S. government eased travel restrictions to Cuba about a year ago, and one survey indicates that American interest in vacationing there may be down this year versus last.

According to Allianz Global Assistance, 76% of Americans said they were “not likely” to travel to Cuba this year, up from 70% in 2016. Conversely, 40% of Americans said they would be interested in taking a trip to Cuba (two percentage points fewer than in 2016).

Safety concerns (38%), lack of information on Cuba’s travel experiences (22%), travel infrastructure (13%) and fear of the communist government (12%) are some of the anxieties for Americans. Allianz did see safety concerns decline this year, down from 44% in 2016.

Resorts and beaches (32%) remain the hot ticket items that would make Americans most interested in travel to Cuba. That is ahead of Cuba’s cultural attractions (23%), Cuban food and rum (13%), the Cuban people (9%), and Cuban cigars (7%).

Several airlines recently announced cuts in routes and flights, because they say demand hasn’t been matching capacity. But other airlines, and cruise lines, are still bullish on Cuba.

Steve Powers, at Hidden Treasure Tours in Long Beach, NY, said interest in travel to Cuba is still strong at his agency. “I have had four or five bookings in the past month and a half, and am working on four bookings right now. Some of this interest might be a result of the concern over whether the new administration is going to have a change of heart about engagement with Cuba, and maybe close things down. Perhaps travelers feel the window to visit Cuba may be open only for a limited time and they want to get there.”

“We’re seeing more interest this year than last,” said Nanci Londeree, president of Windermere Travel in Orlando, FL. “A lot of people are booking cruises to Cuba.”

Many news agencies reported in April that several controversial proposals were being circulated within the White House reflecting Trump campaign rhetoric to “reverse” pro-engagement measures approved by the Obama Administration.

“I am confident that President Trump will treat Cuba like the dictatorship it is and that our policy going forward will reflect the fact that it is not in the national interest of the United States for us to be doing business with the Cuban military,” Senator Marco Rubio was quoted as saying in one news report.

The Allianz survey also measured sentiment and discovered that 34% of Americans think Cuba has changed for the better because of as a result of the U.S. having eased travel restrictions to the island country.

Powers believes the opening of Cuba travel to Americans has resulted in improved relations between the two countries, and a destination from which agents can profit. “We have clients coming back saying ‘This was the best trip of my life,’ ” Powers said. This word-of-mouth momentum is helping him grow his Cuba sales.

The 2017 10-question survey was administered to the U.S. internet population between April 11 and April 13, 2017, receiving 1,514 responses.

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