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Cuba sees steep decline in US travelers


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I am guessing there has been a decline in visitors from the the rest of the world as well (excluding Asia). 

 

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https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2018/04/07/cuba-visitors-travel-down-trump-policy-obama-castro-havana-cruise-ship/371612002/

 

Cuba, once bustling with heavy-spending Americans, sees steep decline in U.S. travelers

Rick Jervis, USA TODAYPublished 9:57 a.m. ET April 7, 2018 | Updated 11:31 p.m. ET April 7, 2018
 
 
 

U.S. cruise ships still call on Cuban ports and U.S. airlines, such as American and Southwest, still list Havana and Camaguey as destinations.

But Cuba – not long ago bustling with good-tipping, heavy-spending Americans – is experiencing a steep decline in U.S. travelers.

Reasons vary, including new restrictions on travel imposed by President Trump and Hurricane Irma's brush with the island last year. But the main reason fewer Americans are traveling to the communist island is one of perception, said Tom Popper, president of InsightCuba’s, a New York-based tour operator that organizes trips to Cuba.

On April 19, Raul Castro is expected to step down as president of Cuba and be replaced by Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel – a move not expected to impact the dearth of U.S. visitors to Cuba.

Trump has taken a more aggressive stance against the Castro-led government, making U.S. visitors hesitant to travel to the island, Popper said.

 

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It costs more than similar Caribbean destinations for the same level of accommodation.  

 

I love going there, but it's not a coincidence that I get death stares from the missus at the prospect of another Cuban vacation.  I guess part of its charm is that it doesn't appeal to everyone.  

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I’ve been going a couple of times a year for the past seven years and saw first hand the slow then rapid increase in Americans followed by the quick decline in the last year. Hot spots in Havana were much quieter last November and this March and hotel prices that went way up are coming way down. Stayed at The National in March for pretty close to what I paid back in 2013. The last few years it had basically tripled in price but came back down as a direct result of the change in US visitors.


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6 minutes ago, JohnInCleveland said:

It costs more than similar Caribbean destinations for the same level of accommodation.  

 

I love going there, but it's not a coincidence that I get death stares from the missus at the prospect of another Cuban vacation.  I guess part of its charm is that it doesn't appeal to everyone.  

That's why I go alone :-)

 

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Let's face it, if you are taking the wife and kids on vacation Cuba is not very appealing compared to destinations like Cancun, Bahamas, Caribbean islands. Kids want Wi-Fi for their devices, wives want a hotel room with hot showers and plenty of towels and toilet paper, and the whole family wants first world accommodations. I can take my Cuban cigars with me to any of these destinations and enjoy them just as much. And drink safe water and eat world class food. 

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12 minutes ago, cfc1016 said:

If '45' hadn't eliminated the 'person to person' visa accommodation, I would've visited by now.

Support for the Cuban People general license - I look forward to doing so in December.

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I think it's a combination of political climate and the sonic attacks on US embassy that has led to the sudden decline.  I was there around this time last year and whenever I talk about the trip my colleagues usually tell me how lucky I was to just get in right before all of the drama. 

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1 hour ago, NYgarman said:

Let's face it, if you are taking the wife and kids on vacation Cuba is not very appealing compared to destinations like Cancun, Bahamas, Caribbean islands. Kids want Wi-Fi for their devices, wives want a hotel room with hot showers and plenty of towels and toilet paper, and the whole family wants first world accommodations. I can take my Cuban cigars with me to any of these destinations and enjoy them just as much. And drink safe water and eat world class food. 

Drink safe water?  What fun is a vacation if you don't contend with Castro's revenge from accidentally having a mixed drink at the wrong bar with ice from tap water?  Blasphemy!

 

My souvenir was crippling digestive issues for 24 hours and riding 5 hrs from Toronto in a cold sweat.  You're making me nostalgic...

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My wife came back with a parasite that hung around long enough for us to name it José. 

We’re going back in June on a cruise stop & she's already told me she will not be eating or drinking on shore. 

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I'm sure hurricane Irma didn't help tourism much either. There was probably also a rush of people like myself who were trying to go to Cuba before Trump had an opportunity to enact policy changes. Now that the dust has settled a little the sense of urgency is gone.

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2 hours ago, HDGSN said:

Support for the Cuban People general license - I look forward to doing so in December.

 

2 hours ago, cfc1016 said:

Would you be so kind as to link me to more detailed info?

I would be interested in reading up on this as well!

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I noticed a decline in US travelers last November and a bigger difference again in February/March.

On the way from the airport to my casa in March I asked the driver had he seen many Americans recently, his response was "Zero".

Last year at festival time, Fabrica de Arte, for example, was filled with young (18-30 year old) Americans. Very very few this time.

The Hemingway house tour was packed last year. I didn't go this year but saw some friends pictures, it's much different, very quiet.

Some places are still very busy, the Bodeguita del Medio is still basically no-go and the Floridita full all day, still busier all the time than it was 3 or 4 years ago, both those places look like mostly tours from cruise ships.

Prices for accommodation, hotels especially, have come way down, casa particulares not as much yet but I know a lot of those owners have invested a lot of money for the new business and are probably a bit slower to bring down prices.

I still know quite a few Americans who travel to Cuba on individual licenses.

I spoke with three or four US tour operators to Cuba in the last couple of months and what they say is while the rules haven't really changed all that much, the perception of the rules has. Travelers are now much more unsure of what the rules are and tend to go to easier destinations.

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12 hours ago, stogieluver said:

My wife came back with a parasite that hung around long enough for us to name it José. 

We’re going back in June on a cruise stop & she's already told me she will not be eating or drinking on shore. 

Get a scrip for Cipro.  Its like American Express....I never leave home without it...:lol:

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11 hours ago, MooseAMuffin said:

 

I would be interested in reading up on this as well!

Here's a decent primer by Sir @Habana Mike

 

http://www.friendsofhabanos.com/forum/topic/132871-new-cuba-restrictions-for-us-travellers-finally-announced/?do=findComment&comment=815478

 

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It's almost as if when you raise hotel prices and restaurant prices you become less attractive against better destinations at similar or cheaper pricing.

This was our experience both trips last year. Significantly less Americans (possibly more than ever), and overall most restaurants and hot spots were vacant.

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I can only echo the comments above. The change between November 2016 and November 2017 was very noticeable. Cabs were cheaper, no waits at some of the best restaurants, I stayed at the Hotel Nacional for less than $250 USD a night (still too much). My Casa Owner, cab drivers, bar tenders all agreed that the number of Americans had declined heavily. The guesses were anywhere from 40% to 70% fewer. 

The regulations really haven't changed at all. The presentation of the "sonic attacks" here in the states plus the perceived change in policy has probably driven most of it. However, for some reason, most people in the US believe that Cuba is a Very dangerous country to travel too. I think its more ignorance/blind perception rather than any organized reporting/propaganda, but the feeling is certainly widespread in the general population. The reports of mysteriously injured diplomats have done nothing to help change this unfortunately. 

Selfishly, it made for a better trip this last time around. Lower prices, less wait times, better cigar selection. All positives for me, but viewed holistically, its not all so rosie. As others have stated, people have sunk a lot of money into Casa Particulares and private restaurants. Lets hope they dont get caught holding the bag if this droop continues. 

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11 minutes ago, oliverdst said:

There is one thing that we should consider: Cuba was the hype destination.

Now from what I have heard is Iceland.

Not comparing, just saying.

Funny you say that. I just had a coworker and a buddy go on unrelated trips to Iceland in the last 6 weeks. 

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Great point above. I know several people that have gone to Iceland recently. And another buddy (non-cigar smoker) that was planning a Cuba trip, but switched destinations due to more attractive locale and pricing. 

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The decline certainly isn't attributable to my wife or I, who after going to Havana for our honeymoon last August have been raving to everyone we know that they need to go. With the new regs, we just tell people to fly to Mexico or Grand Cayman and then fly into Cuba from there, asking the customs agent to stamp the visa instead of your passport. What momma US don't know won't hurt her.

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