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US travel to Cuba surges by 36%

It is fifty-five years since the US government limited travel to Cuba, allowing only sanctioned travel to the likes of journalists, academics, government officials, those with immediate family members living on the island and others licensed by the Treasury Department. However in 2011 the rules were amended which allowed what are referred to as a people to people tour, but that has not stopped tens of thousands visiting by circumventing the restrictions, entering from the Cayman Islands, Cancun, Nassau, or Toronto, Canada.

The restrictions on travel have not been lifted, but a thaw in diplomatic relations between the two countries has had the effect of seeing a dramatic rise in the number of Americans without family ties visiting Cuba between 1 January and 9 May of this year compared to the same period in 2014. The numbers of Americans who visited the island in this period has risen to 51,548 compared to 37,459 over that period last year. In addition to the number of American visitors, Cuba has also seen a jump in visitors from other parts of the world. In spite of the thaw in diplomatic relations, travel restrictions remain in place for US citizens, for example travel to the Island for tourism is prohibited and those that are allowed are not restricted to the amount of money they can spend on living expenses, but may not bring back more than $400 worth of items in baggage with alcohol and tobacco being restricted to $100.

So it seems that Cuba is the new destination to visit, many are putting this down to wanting to see the country before it becomes “Americanised” with Burger Kings and MacDonald’s on every corner, the authorities are adamant that this will not happen, but nonetheless people want to visit to see the end of revolutionary Cuba.

Picture: unmillonedeelefantes / Shutterstock.com

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