Over ninety -two thousand Americans visited Cuba in 2013, making the northern nation in the seventh largest emitting market of tourist to the island nation. With this amount, the presence of visitors to the United States exceeds that of Argentina, the Latin American country that sent most vacationers, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics and Information of Cuba (ONEI).
This represents a slight decrease of nearly six percent, compared to ninety-eight thousand who came in 2012. Still, American tourism is larger than the Spanish, which also declined last year by eleven percent. It is the first time the statistics of U.S. tourism in Cuba retreat since 2006.
The behavior of the Americans was no different from the British, French and Italian major tourist markets for Cuba, which in 2013 also decreased on the emission of visitors. Also the number of travelers from Argentina declined.
But the vagaries of these statistics may have little to do with the decline. The restrictions on the travel of Americans to Cuba, still standing, could have a negative impact, despite the statements made in November 2013 by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, in favor of a greater presence of his countrymen in the Caribbean nation.
The updating of the U.S. foreign policy towards Cuba , promised by President Barack Obama, has not materialized yet , there hasn’t been even an opening for the citizens of that country to travel freely to the island , so they still need special permissions issued by the Treasury Department in Washington before taking a plane to Havana.
The Cuban ONEI doesn’t report the number of visitors from the United States in its monthly reports. Still, the number can be deduced from the number of visitors coming to Cuba from North America, a geopolitical region that comprises Canada, Mexico and the United States.
The total of North Americans minus the sum of Mexican and Canadian arrivals to Cuba, resulting in a remaining of over 92 thousand visitors from that part of the world, a country that is not even located in this report within the list of top emitting markets, when it would correspond the seventh place.
2014 began with good evidence for a possible opening of U.S. travel to Cuba. President pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, Patrick Leahy sent a letter to President Barack Obama calling for the elimination of the embargo against Cuba, when he said that “instead of voluntarily restricting freedom of our own citizens, we should take every opportunity to flood the Cubans with U.S. interaction with our ideas, our young people. “
Photo: Francisco Ramos, picture of Tourists along the Malecon taken from the Havana Symphony photo gallery