runs 60 to 70 percent of the nation’s tourism industry.
The announcement itself was expected to have a chilling affect. Instead, the number of people travelling between Tampa and Havana has soared. The number in both July and August increased by 4,000 over the same periods the previous year — to 14,162 in July and 12,003 in August.
That’s consistent with the average monthly totals earlier in 2017, pushing the year-to-date total to 89,800 — already surpassing the 80,200 recorded for all of 2016.
This is despite the added competition from two cruise lines.
“Our Cuba cruises from Tampa have been proving very popular and continue to sell well,” said Carnival Cruise Line spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz.
What’s more, American, Delta, Jet Blue, United and Southwest are now competing for three open commercial routes to Havana to be allocated by the U.S. Department of Transportation.
They want the new business to fly from Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Boston and Houston. Southwest, which operates daily flights between Havana and Tampa, wants to increase its daily Fort Lauderdale-Havana routes from two to three.
Reno of Cuba Executive Travel has continued to take at least one group to Cuba every few weeks, just as he did before Trump announced the pending restrictions.
But even before the new travel warning, Reno said, “I do think concerns have increased about the politics and the ramifications.”
Carlson Maritime Travel was already feeling it.
The Tarpon Springs company had arranged to send a group of golfers to Varadero in October to participate in the Cuba Gulf Grand Tournament. But the golfers canceled soon after Trump announced his policies.
Americans who felt politically safe visiting Cuba when Obama was in office, said company president Carlson, now wonder “how going will make them look. People are hesitant.”