Taking a Brief Look at Cuba and Its Tourism Industry– Cuba has been known as a popular tourist destination for a long time. Havana, the country’s capital, saw a large influx of tourists, more than any other countries in the Caribbean, between 1915 and 1930. This was due in large part to the country’s close proximity to the US. The US during the time applied restrictive alcohol prohibition while Cuba was much more lenient and relaxed toward pursuits of leisure. Tourism quickly became Cuba’s largest source of currency, behind sugar and tobacco industry. Cuba’s tourism industry suffered from a little hiccup thanks to the Great Depression of the 1930s, the alcohol prohibition coming to an end, and the World War II. The number of tourist came back to normal in the 1950s, though.
In 1989, the communist regimes in Eastern Europe collapsed and in 1992 the Soviet Union came to an end. These factors caused a crisis in the economy of Cuba due to the fact that the Soviets were the primary partner for trading for Cuba. To encounter the economic depression, the communist rulers of Cuba were forced to find a new source of income and tourism was one sector they selected to shift reliance from sugar industry. In 1994, a new Tourism Ministry was established. Over $3.5 billion was invested in the tourism industry from 1990 to 2000 while the number of rooms serving international tourists rose from 12,000 to 35,000. Tourism had largely surpassed sugar industry by 1995 as Cuba’s major source of income. The local gambling business site also have more visitor from this growing tourism business.
The largest number of tourists comes from Canada—arrivals from the country rises by 10% per year since 2007. The second largest is from Europe, primarily from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Great Britain. The US put a ban on traveling to Cuba so there is no clear number for how many tourists come to the country. However, some statistics show that about 20,000 to 30,000 Americans traveled to Cuba illegally every year. The US government authorized six airlines to Cuba in June 2016. The US government also made their law much more relaxed in this regard, making people easier to travel to Cuba, a change that was further amended in March 2016. These loosened restrictions were partially revoked in 2017 but traveling to Cuba is still legal for US citizens who meet the requirements. As of 2019, Americans can travel to Cuba using an OFAC General License, once proven having met any one of the 12 categories of legal travel.