Some 614 433 visitors arrived in Cuba from USA in 2016, representing a 34 percent increase when compared to the previous year, despite the fact that Americans are still unable to do tourism on Cuba because of the blockade.
According to Josefina Vidal, director general of the United States in the Cuban Foreign Ministry, 284 937 of them are Americans – 74 per cent more than in 2015 – who travel to the Caribbean island under the 12 general categories authorized by President Barack Obama.
In addition, 329 496 Cubans residing in that nation arrived in Cuba on direct flights, with a growth of 12 percent over last year, according to Vidal.
This increase in the statistics of 2016, when the Caribbean destination received four million international visitors, was mainly due to the restoration of regular direct flights between Cuba and the United States, suspended for more than 50 years.
The signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) by authorities in Havana and Washington opened up the possibility of making up to 110 daily flights between the two countries, which began with 20 of them to the capital and 10 to each of the nine Cuban international airports.
Although not a single tourist on board, the cruise ship Adonia, belonging to the American company Carnival, first of that country to anchor in Havana in about four decades, also sails to Cuba.
The general licenses approved by the Obama administration include the possibility that Americans come individually, under the category of “educational trips for people-to-people exchange.”
According to conservative estimates, once the current blockade prohibitions – which only Congress can eliminate – to be eliminated, Cuba would reach two million American tourists a year at first, a figure that would increase to five million in the medium term.