TTC Service.- The US embargo on Cuba still prevents “Yankees” tourists traveling to the “forbidden island”. But despite this, the wave of American citizens to go on holiday to Cuba is already moving.
At least that’s what the facts say. According to many news report in United States, the most importan tCruise lines are preparing for the Cuban rush of US tourists”.
“Once the rules allow us to go legally, once the embargo is lifted, which is the main restriction … yes, we’re ready,” told Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH) to the Sun Sentinel, of Florida, at the annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference last March. “I would bet that all of us in this town are ready to move at a drop of a hat” Del Rio added.“My unfulfilled dream is to be on the bridge of one of my ships coming into Havana harbor,” Norwegian Cruise Line’s Del Rio, whose family left Cuba when he was a child.
During the last month the CBS television network reported that despite the restrictions, thousands of American citizens travel to Cuba annually.
Some US experts say the tourism infrastructure in Cuba is not prepared for a tsunami of American tourists. But tourism is already a major part of the Cuban economy, with or without American cruise lines. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba found itself economically isolated, and one response was to turn to tourism.
The Cuban National Statistics and Information Office (ONEI) reported recently that in January and February 771 thousand 678 visitors arrived at the island. The report adds that in February alone in that category arrived 360 thousand 29 foreigners. The mentioned total above for the bimester includes 13 thousand 621 excursionists, of whom five thousand 128 were cruiser passengers.
Only in February 2015 entered the country 360 thousand 29 travelers, compared to 316 thousand 161 of last year in the same month, standing out the emitting markets of Canada, Germany, France, United Kingdom, Italy and Venezuela.
Last March 21, tne Cuban Ministry of Tourism published a press release in which it announced the arrival since the beginning of 2015, of visitor one million, 11 days before than in 2014.
The list of emitters for the first quarter shows Canada in first place (12.6 percent growth), Germany (23.3 of the total) France (22.8), the United Kingdom (30.6) and Italy, according to the Cuba agency Prensa Latina.
ONEI added that the number of foreign tourists who arrived in Cuba on cruise ships increased by 3,000 passengers during January in comparison to the same period last year. The total number of travelers who reached Cuban ports during the first month of the year rose to 3,937 passengers. Cuban tourism authorities expect some 212 stopovers by 13 cruisers during the current season, which began in November and will last till April.
Though approval for travel to Cuba by US tourists on cruisers will depend on the lifting of the embargo, authorization for a passenger vessel to travel to the island for educational or cultural reasons would depend only on the US Treasury Department.
Last year, the Louis Cristal cruiser, rented out to the Louis group by the Canadian company Cuba Cruise, included the island in its itinerary for the first time and has scheduled a Monday departure from Havana and a Friday departure from Montego Bay for the season that began on December 22 last year. The ship will dock at six ports, including Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos, and trips will be offered until March 30.
The number of tourists arriving in Cuba during January has gradually increased over the past three years, from 293,329 to 371,160 visitors.