Cuba records increase in U.S visitors in 2012
New figures released by the National Statistics Office in Cuba have revealed that the number of American visitors taking Cuba holidays in 2012 reached more than 98,000, which is twice the number in 2007. The reinstatement of people-to-people cultural and educational travel programmes to Cuba has helped increase the number of U.S visitors.
The number of American visitors who travelled to the Caribbean island of Cuba in 2012 has doubled compared to figures in 2007, according to the Cuba's National Statistics Office.
The U.S visitor figures for 2012 reached over 98,000, a significant increase compared to the 73,500 visitors to Cuba in 2011.
The increase in Cuba travel for American residents is partly due to the reinstatement of people-to-people cultural and educational travel programmes in 2011.
The Obama administration relaxed restrictions for U.S travellers planning Cuba holidays and the laws enabled more tourists to visit the communist country for the first time through organised tours and charters.
U.S travel companies that are licensed by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control are now permitted to operate itineraries and holidays to Cuba for religious, educational, academic and cultural purposes.
The programmes support interaction between Americans and Cubans while allowing tourists to experience and explore the country's cuisine, culture, history, and educational systems.
In 2012, 2.8 tourists took holidays to Cuba but arrivals so far this year are down by two percent. The Caribbean island is a popular destination for international tourists thanks to its beautiful landscapes, rich history and cultural offerings.
The bustling capital city of Havana is home to decaying ruins of buildings, vibrant bars and cafes and bustling markets and streets, while the beach resort of Varadero boasts white sand beaches and luxury Cuba hotels and resorts.
Emerging towns and cities such as Santa Clara and Holguin are also attracting new visitors with the help of additional flights to Cuba.
The Jardines del Rey archipelago is one of the most popular tourist destinations for travellers taking holidays to Cuba and it is home to turquoise, crystal clear waters and an impressive barrier reef system that is perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving.
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