Sunday, January 24, 2016
Cuba the hot travel destination for 2016
“Since the December 2014 announcement that the United States and Cuba had agreed to restore diplomatic ties, travelers have been rushing to see the last of the old Cuba even as brands are competing to be the first in,” research firm J. Walter Thompson Intelligence said in its year-ahead report.
Airbnb, American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue are among the travel firms fighting for tourist dollars in the newly open market.
“Cuba’s tourism market is set to take off, and a full repeal of the U.S. economic embargo – an idea that seems to be gaining steam – would have far-reaching effects,” JWT Intelligence said. CheapFlights.com listed Cuba among its top five hot destinations for 2016.
“Tourist travel to Cuba is still officially banned, but the reestablishment of diplomatic relations in early 2015 has cracked open the door for visitors. And signs point to more and more of an infrastructure for Americans to gain access to Cuba,” CheapFlights.com writer Emily Fisher said. “There has already been a notable upswing in Americans traveling to Cuba and, as travel to and within the country gets easier, interest will grow even faster.”
Global travel search engine Skyscanner listed Cuba as its No. 2 destination for 2016, behind Ponta Delgada, the Azores.
“After years in the cold, Cuba is back on the world stage as the U.S. restored diplomatic relations with the country in July and continues to loosen restrictions on trade,” Skyscanner said. “If more restrictions are lifted we may see flights from the U.S. and the arrival of U.S. hotel chains opening in Cuba in 2016.”
Many people want to experience Cuba before it changes from the influx of foreign brands and financing.
“Having been shut off for so long, Cuba is trapped in a time warp, with crumbing colonial buildings and 1950s cars. It is like nowhere else on earth,” Skyscanner said.
One question I have about Cuba is: When will we see the first Major League Baseball team based in Cuba? That might take a while, but I’d expect to see a AAA minor league franchise in no time.
In December, the MLB asked U.S. government for special permission to sign players in Cuba, Reuters reported.