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Brooks Wilson's Economics Blog: Travel to Cuba

Monday, December 21, 2009

Travel to Cuba

The Obama administration is attempting to thaw relations with Castro's Cuba.  I believe this is good news not because it will bring dollars to Cuba, but because it will expose Cubans to our freer, wealthier society.  Can the Castro regime survive such a comparison?  A Reuters article, "U.S. travel industry gearing up for return to Cuba" posted at UK and Ireland provides the details.
President Barack Obama has said he wants to improve ties with communist-run Cuba and lifted restrictions introduced by the Bush administration on visits and family remittances by Cuban Americans to the island.

But whether American tourists will return to Cuba will hinge on debate in Congress, where opponents say sanctions should not be lifted until Cuba frees political prisoners and undertakes democratic reforms to its one-party state.

They say American tourism will help prop up the communist government of President Raul Castro, who succeed his ailing brother last year.

A bill to end the travel ban sponsored by Democrat Bill Delahunt of Massachusetts and Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona has 195 backers in the House of Representatives, 23 votes short, supporters of the measure said.

Similar legislation in the Senate has the support of key senators such as Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana, but needs 60 votes to pass...

The article also reports projections of travel to Cuba.
"Americans really want to see Cuba," said Robert Whitely, president of the U.S. Tour Operators, which together with the National Tour Association also present at the event, handles 75 percent of all package tour business to the Caribbean.

"We predict that at least 850,000 Americans will go to Cuba in the first year," Whitely said.

That does not include an estimated 480,000 Americans who will go to Cuba on Caribbean cruises when U.S. ships are allowed to dock there, and another 480,000 Cuban American visiting family in Cuba each year, a Cuban official said.

Cuba plans to build 30 hotels over the next six years with the help of foreign investors, adding 10,000 rooms to the 48,600 that exist now, as well as golf courses, said Miguel Figueras, the top adviser to the Cuban tourism minister.

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