News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Dec. 28, 2016: The NAN Caribbean destination of The Year title for 2016 goes to Cuba. Here’s why:
1: This past year, Cuba attracted about 230,000 Americans alone in only the first 11 months of 2016.
2: That is over 2.5 times more than 2014, when President Obama began his process of normalizing US relations with Cuba. The officials of the Cuban Tourism Ministry (MINTUR) announced that by the end of this year, 3.5 million visitors are expected to come to the island.
3: Yet there are only 63,000 hotel rooms in Cuba, far fewer than needed so those signed up with AirBnB in Cuba are making as much as US250 per booking.
4: Ten thousands homes are registered with AirBnB and another 10,000 are licensed by the government to rent.
5: The Cuban government has announced plans to expand its hotel room stock by 2020.
6: France’s Sofitel, Switzerland’s Kempinski and the US’ Starwoods have announced plans to build or renovate four and five-star hotels in Havana. Starwood, recently bought over by the Marriott, has taken over management of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, which has been rebranded as Four Points. The company is also refurbishing the Inglaterra, a 19th century Havana landmark.
7: Eight US airlines are approved to run 20-round trip flights daily between the US and Havana.
8: General Electric (GE), Alphabet’s Google (GOOGL), Pearl, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL) are among the companies that are set to operate in Cuba soon.
9: With the death of former Cuba president Fidel Castro, the closed-end Herzfeld Caribbean Basin Fund (CUBA), which owns companies that could benefit from a more open Cuban economy and expanded tourism and construction, has rallied upwards.
10: The Associated Press has returned to Cuba, housing its Caribbean bureau there and naming Michael Weissenstein the editor of the newly re-situated bureau.
What happens next with U.S.-Cuba relations under Donald Trump is anyone’s guess but if Trump decides to turn back the clock and end travel to Cuba again for Americans, American companies, American tourists and the emerging class of more than half a million small business owners or cuentapropistas, many of which depend on tourism, would be drastically impacted.