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Cuba travel ban lift could reduce number of U.S travellers taking Bahamas holidays

  • 14-Jul-10 09:14
  • Bahamas
  • Jones Bahamas

The number of U.S travellers taking Bahamas holidays could fall if the current embargo which has been in place for over 40 years banning U.S residents travelling to Cuba is lifted and the tourists legally head to their new holiday hot spot.

Cuba travel ban lift could reduce number of U.S travellers taking Bahamas holidays

The Bahamas and other Caribbean islands are being warned to brace themselves for the possibility of the U.S - Cuba embargo being lifted and the impact the lift of the ban may have on tourism and the economy. U.S travellers are amongst the most popular tourists who enjoy Bahamas holidays and if the ban is lifted, they could soon be swapping their Bahamas breaks for Cuba holidays.

Before the ban was enforced in 1962, Cuba received the largest number of American travellers but the area has since suffered as tourist destination as the tourists were forced to head to other Caribbean regions. Recent statistics show that 80.5 percent of tourists enjoying Bahamas holidays in 2008 were from the United States. If the ban is lifted, the impact could significantly affect local tourism business and Bahamas hotels.

Former Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, Dennis Morrison, recently published an article highlighting the impact on the Caribbean if the ban was lifted and the increase in travel to Cuba.

"The low travel costs from the U.S. is seen as one of the major factors that would spur the shift in visitor traffic, but the effect of short-run supply constraints in Cuba's tourist industry is less clear," he said.

"Neighbouring tourist destinations, especially the ones that are heavily dependent on the U.S. [like The Bahamas] would lose the most if they are not prepared for the change. Because of the scope for increased U.S. tourists to Cuba and the possibility that non-U.S. tourists would be redirected to neighbouring countries, the study anticipates that total Caribbean arrivals could increase by up to 11 per cent."

Last week, a committee of the United States House of Representatives voted in favour of reversing the restriction on Cuba travel.
Mr Morrison explained:

"Though there has been talk of such a move for some time, the strong, pro-embargo, Cuban-American lobby has managed to stall efforts in the U.S. Congress to ease travel restrictions and was supported by the threat of a presidential veto under President George W. Bush," Mr. Morrison said in the article.

"Relying on the stalemate to keep competition from Cuba at bay, Caribbean policymakers and the industry in the region have yet to lay out a plan of action to manage the consequences of a post-embargo era, giving lip service instead, while carrying on business as usual."

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