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Fri Jan 19, 2018, 11:29 PM

Tourism booming in Cuba despite tougher new Trump policy


Andrea Rodriguez, Associated Press
Updated 3:00 pm, Friday, January 19, 2018



HAVANA (AP) On a sweltering early summer afternoon in Miami's Little Havana, President Donald Trump told a cheering Cuban-American crowd that he was rolling back some of Barack Obama's opening to Cuba in order to starve the island's military-run economy of U.S. tourism dollars and ratchet up pressure for regime change.

That doesn't appear to be happening. Travel to Cuba is booming from dozens of countries, including the U.S. And the tourism dollars from big-spending Americans seem to be heading into Cuba's state sector and away from private business, according to Cuban state figures, experts and private business people themselves.

The government figures show that 2017 was a record year for tourism, with 4.7 million visitors pumping more than $3 billion into the island's otherwise struggling economy. The number of American travelers rose to 619,000, more than six times the pre-Obama level. But amid the boom an 18 percent increase over 2016 owners of private restaurants and bed-and-breakfasts are reporting a sharp drop-off.

"There was an explosion of tourists in the months after President Obama's detente announcement. They were everywhere!" said Rodolfo Morales, a retired government worker who rents two rooms in his home for about $30 a night. "Since then, it's fallen off."

More:
http://www.chron.com/news/world/article/Tourism-booming-in-Cuba-despite-tougher-new-Trump-12509442.php#photo-14909136

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