TravelBizNews Online —
London: The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has expressed disappointment on US President Donald Trump’s plan to reverse key elements of the trading relationship between the US and Cuba .
“The Cuban people are directly benefiting from increased business and leisure travel to Havana. Travel brings income to the people who work in our industry. President Trump’s statements indicate that the Cuban people, rather than the government will be hit by this policy change,” said David Scowsill, President and CEO, WTTC.
“Airlines, cruise lines and hotel groups have all made significant investments and plans to create jobs and to grow the industry in Cuba, based on clear direction from the previous administration. Our sector needs consistency from governments and stability of policy. This is a clear and unwelcome reversal.”
Cuba is already a very popular tourist destination, currently being the second most visited Caribbean island. Canadians and Europeans have steadily increased their numbers, with direct flights into various beach locations on the island.
Visitor exports, which is money spent by foreign travelers in the country, totaled US$2.8 billion in 2016.
Scowsill said: “There is plenty more scope to grow the travel sector in Cuba. The country is not reliant on the US market for further tourism growth, but it is American businesses and leisure consumers that will suffer from this proposed move.
“US citizens have been traveling as individuals rather than on group tours. Rolling back this policy and allowing US citizens to only enter the country on organized tours, means that less tourism dollars will find their way to the Cuban people. Tourism is a force for good; it bridges gaps between cultures and empowers local people by creating jobs and income streams. We would urge the Trump administration to support the Cuban people,” WTTC statement reads.
Earlier, US President Donald Trump vowed on June 16 to overhaul Barack Obama’s deal to restore ties with Cuba, promising to instead support the Cuban people against Raul Castro’s government.
In practical terms, Trump’s review of the deal was limited. He will not break the diplomatic ties Obama worked so carefully to restore, nor does he plan to impose new trade sanctions, according to AFP.
In a statement on state television Cuba denounced the measures, but said Havana “reiterates its willingness to continue the respectful dialogue and cooperation.”
Some 285,000 people visited the Caribbean country in 2016, up 74 percent over 2015, with Americans the third-biggest group after Canadians and Cuban expats.
June 17 , 2017