The United States and Cuba have long had a strained relationship when it comes to visitations and tourism. During President Obama’s tenure in office, travel restrictions were eased while still maintaining a ban on tourism.
Now, after President Donald Trump’s move to tighten travel restrictions, there has been a 7 percent decrease from foreign visitors to the Caribbean Island from January 2018 to March. Michael Bernal, the Cuban Tourism Ministry’s commercial director, explained in a news conference held in Havana that aside from tighter restrictions from the U.S. and warning on travel, another factor to blame for the lower number of U.S. visitors is the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, which he detailed as unjustified worries.
Bernal explained that “The total of U.S. clients is only 56.6 percent of what it was in 2017.”
While there was increased arrivals in the Caribbean Island, it helped grow Cuba’s private sector, and many Cubans were seen rushing to open restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts. Tourism was seen as a sign of hope in a country riddled with many issues that range from the government’s oppression to lack of resources and aide from countries like Venezuela.
However, Bernal asserts that the country expects to get the numbers up to 5 million this year.