More than 605,000 Americans visit Cuba this year


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More than 605,000 Americans visit Cuba this year

Canada remains Cuba's No. 1 tourism market

By Hatzel Vela - Cuba Correspondent
 

HAVANA, Cuba. - Cuban tourism officials said Canada remains their No. 1 market, with the U.S. following in second place.

As of Dec. 18, more than 605,000 Americans have visited the island this year. 

Cuban officials said they did see a 6 percent decrease in visitors who came by plane, which they attribute to new measures from the Trump administration, which they argue discourages Americans from visiting. 

Hurricane Irma in September 2017 has also affected overall tourism in Cuba.    

According to Michel Bernal, of the Cuban Tourism Ministry, this year, the growth has been in cruise ships, where they saw a 50 percent increase over last year. 

Bernal said they're hoping to close the year with 4.7 million visitors. 

Tourism officials said this year has been a tough and costly experience. 

As for 2019, they can't forecast what American tourism will look like, but they're hopeful it will get better. 

Overall, in 2019, they hope to reach 5 million visitors. 

In other news in Washington, Trump has signed the farm bill into law. 

The legislation funds $867 billion in food and agriculture programs, including funds to help American farmers promote their products in Cuba. But it doesn't provide credit for sales. 

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweaked the bill so the Cuban military couldn't benefit from it. 

Congress first authorized agricultural sales to Cuba for cash in 2000. 

Cuban officials said they did see a 6 percent decrease in visitors who came by plane, which they attribute to new measures from the Trump administration, which they argue discourages Americans from visiting. 

Hurricane Irma in September 2017 has also affected overall tourism in Cuba.    

According to Michel Bernal, of the Cuban Tourism Ministry, this year, the growth has been in cruise ships, where they saw a 50 percent increase over last year. 

Bernal said they're hoping to close the year with 4.7 million visitors. 

Tourism officials said this year has been a tough and costly experience. 

As for 2019, they can't forecast what American tourism will look like, but they're hopeful it will get better. 

Overall, in 2019, they hope to reach 5 million visitors. 

In other news in Washington, Trump has signed the farm bill into law. 

The legislation funds $867 billion in food and agriculture programs, including funds to help American farmers promote their products in Cuba. But it doesn't provide credit for sales. 

U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweaked the bill so the Cuban military couldn't benefit from it. 

Congress first authorized agricultural sales to Cuba for cash in 2000. 

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