Cuba has seen an increase of popularity and attention following U.S. President Barack Obama’s historic decision to normalize U.S. ties with the island. And many American seemed eager to experience Cuba’s rich past, especially its colonial-era architecture, its Buena Vista Social Club music, 1950s American cars and world-famous rum and cigars.
Marriot International President Arne Sorenson is one of many companies eager to do business in Cuba, especially as more Americans travel to the island. “With travel to Cuba now surging, existing Cuban hotels are full and hotel companies from other countries are racing to tie up as many of the new hotels as they can before the likes of Marriott and our U.S. competitors show up,” Sorenson said in a recent U.S. News & World Report interview.
However, it seems Cuba isn’t the hot-spot destination US airlines thought it was going to be. American Airlines recently announced it was reducing its service to Cuba and according to Bloomberg, American Airlines cut total flights to Cuba by 25% and switched to smaller planes for some of its remaining flights. . JetBlue has announced it will be using smaller planes for its Cuba flights, reducing capacity by 300 seats per day.
The big question is why aren’t American tourists flocking to Cuba? Here are a few reason:
First, it is still technically “illegal” to go to Cuba solely for tourism and while enforcement isn’t strict, the restrictions put some pressure on tourists to mislead the US government. This has also made airlines nervous about advertising Cuba as a destination. Another reason is cost: after US flights to Cuba were announced, prices on the island skyrocketed, making everything from hotels to taxis unusually expensive. Finally, U.S tourist can not use credit cards, so they have to carry cash to pay for everything from hotels to everything else. Not to mention how difficult would be trying to find an internet connection to get in touch with the rest of the world.