A surge of American visitors since the restoration of diplomatic ties is testing the limits of Cuba’s tourism industry. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Havana is open for business
Havana is open for business.
Once a rare sight, Americans are now swarming Old Havana’s colonial squares and narrow streets along with Europeans and Canadians.
It’s something of a mixed blessing says Luis Carlos Benvenuto Solas — owner of a private restaurant.
(SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) OWNER OF PRIVATE RESTAURANT, ‘CAFÉ ARTES’, LUIS CARLOS BENVENUTO SOLAS, SAYING:
“The groups that are coming are also bigger so that is good for business. It’s a big challenge because it’s the issue of suppliers and how to get everything to maintain the same standard and same quality – it makes it very complicated.”
It’s not exactly what American tourist Jerry Christ was expecting.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) AMERICAN TOURIST, JERRY CHRIST, SAYING:
“I was amazed at the fact that there are so many tourists down here. I didn’t realize the Japanese, Spaniards, so many different people from all over the world are here already and also Americans. I have seen more Americans than I thought that I would see down here.”
In December 2014, the U.S. and Cuba ended five decades of animosity and agreed to restore diplomatic ties.
More than a year later, it looks as though there was plenty of pent up demand.
Nevermind that there are limited hotel rooms, and that the Island is struggling to cope with an almost 20 percent spike in tourism —
those worries can be washed away with a day at the beach.