Interest in visiting the country has shot up since President Obama announced plans to re-establish relations in late 2014.
If survey responses are anything to go by, one of the first beneficiaries of a re-established diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Cuba will be the country’s tourism industry. Thirty percent of Americans are planning or would consider a holiday to Cuba within the next two years, according to a new survey.
Among Latino Americans, the number reaches 40%, said the survey, which was conducted by YouGov and polled about 1,100 Americans. The study was paid for by Airbnb, which began offering rentals in Cuba in March and says it already has more than 1,000 listings there.
For now, tourism to Cuba is still a tricky proposition for Americans, although less so than at any time in recent decades. In the past, travelers had to apply for a special license to visit the country, and licenses were only granted for limited purposes—things like family visits; government, academic, or NGO work; journalism; or sporting competitions. Tourism was not one of the permitted categories.
After changes announced by President Obama last December, people traveling for those same limited set of reasons no longer need to apply for a license, but tourism is still not a permitted category. American credit and debit cards were also cleared to work in Cuba, but many other restrictions remain in place, and free movement between the two countries is still some time away.
Competing bills have been introduced in Congress, with one seeking to eliminate restrictions on tourism and another seeking to create new barriers.
If the country is opened to tourism, the survey suggests there are plenty of travelers ready to prioritize it as one of their next destinations. Of those who said they were considering a trip to Cuba, 65% said they would change their existing travel plans to include the country.
Kay Kuehne, Airbnb’s regional director for Latin America, said in a statement that the Cuba could become one the company’s biggest Latin American markets. “This research shows that more and more Americans are starting to factor Cuba into their future travel plans,” she said.
By Tom Gara, Buzz Feed News
April 30, 2015