Let’s rewind to June 2017. Trump announced that only ‘people-to-people’ travel could take place in Cuba, which means that US citizens could only participate in group tours organised by the government. The ‘people-to-people’ requirement was dropped by Obama during his presidency. Trump went even further and actually urged US tourists and travellers to stay away from Cuba.
Trump declared himself that the policies were being reintroduced in an effort to make a negative impact on the Cuban economy. Trump also intended to put pressure on the military-run Cuba to make a regime change, and fast.
The Positive Effects
Flights from the US to Cuba remained the same as did cruise ships. The number of people travelling to Cuba by cruise ship in 2017 was 541,000, while in 2016 the number was 184,000. So there was a huge increase in tourists just from the cruise ship industry.
While the policy implemented by Trump does affect US citizens, it does not affect any other countries and tourists from around the world have been streaming in. In fact, some analysts suggest that Trumps new policy could have sparked people to go to Cuba and see it ‘before it’s too late.
The surge in American tourists wanting to get to see the ‘real’ Cuba has helped improved Cuba’s private tourism sector- which ranges from family-run hotels to souvenir shops, which all got some of the American tourists renowned spending and generous tipping.
The Negative Effects
Trumps announcements took place in June but the policies didn’t come into effect until November 2017 so we have probably not seen the worst of the effects yet. One such effect is that Cuba has put a freeze on all new private tourism licenses as they anticipate the slow stream of American tourism in the future.
Many private bed-and-breakfasts and private tour guides have relied purely on American tourism since 2014 when Obama lifted the original ban on American tourism there. At this stage it is unknown what hardships the private sector will face and how long Trumps policies will stay implemented for but it is predicted that such businesses will begin to suffer.