Recent tightening of restrictions against traveling to Cuba have led to a dip in the country’s tourism industry, according to reports.
The decline in American visitors there follows the Trump administration’s ban on flights to all cities in Cuba except Havana as well as a ban on cruise ships earlier this year. The administration has claimed that tourism dollars go toward supporting the military.
Tourists in Cuba Credit: Getty Images
The flight ban took effect on Tuesday.
These restrictions follows the administration’s pattern of rolling back the visa categories in which it is legal to visit Cuba.
“Now there is nothing, there isn’t anyone,” a local who dresses up for tourist photos in Old Havana told CBS Miami. “Trump’s blockade doesn’t let us make a living.”
In December, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told CNN the strict policies are necessary.
“We rolled back the Obama administration's cuddling up to Cuba by applying heavy new sanctions, we have recognized that engagement has not improved Cuba's regime," he said, adding: "It hasn't made it better. The human rights record was worse."
While the Cuban government admits these restrictive policies have become an economic burden, CBS Miami reported, they maintain they will ultimately be pointless.
Those in the tourism industry, however, are hurting.
"My business has dropped off significantly since the new administration, because Trump has changed the rules," Janice Chieffo, a California-based advisor who organizes trips to the island nation, told Travel Weekly. “My business has virtually stopped.”
Stephen Scott, another advisor based in Chicago, told the publication that interest in Cuba is noticeably lower than just a few years ago.
"From my perspective, it all boils down to confusion," he said. "People don't know if they can or cannot go. [If they do decide to go], they don’t know if they will get in trouble later, after new sanctions are put in place."
If smoking a cigar and sipping rum while taking in the old-school vibes of Havana still appeals to you, travelers can still go — it just takes more research.