Tourism to Cuba collapses due to Trump travel restrictions

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The arrival of tourists to Cuba collapsed 23.6% annually in July, according to official data published on Wednesday, confirming the coup suffered by the sector after the hardening made by the Trump administration of restrictions on Americans to travel to the island.

Havana street, Cuba

Street of Havana, Cuba. / Reference image / Pixabay

Reuters | Sarah Marsh

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Leer en español: El turismo en Cuba se desploma por restricciones de viajes de Trump

Data from the Bureau of Statistics had already shown a 20% drop in tourist arrivals in June after Washington banned cruises to Cuba that same month and made it difficult for US citizens to obtain a waiver of the ban to travel to that country.

The sustained decline reverses a boom in the arrival of tourists and shows the blow suffered by the tourism industry in recent years after the diplomatic distension between Havana and Washington under the command of former US President Barack Obama, an approach that has been It has been falling apart since Trump's arrival at the White House.

Trump has pointed to two of the few bright spots in the Cuban economy - tourism and foreign investment - as part of his campaign to pressure the communist government to make reforms and stop supporting Venezuela's leftist president, Nicolás Maduro.

Analysts say Trump also seems to have the focus on the 2020 presidential elections since there are many Cubans of American origin in Florida who appreciate the toughest line on Havana.

Also read: Venezuela's Maduro says there has been contact with U.S. officials 'for months'

The Trump administration's measures are hurting an economy that fights an economic crisis due to a sharp decline in aid sent by Venezuela and a drop in exports.

Last month, the Cuban government sharply revised downward its estimate for the arrival of visitors throughout the year to 4.3 million, from an original goal of more than 5 million. That will mean an 8.5% drop from the 4.7 million reported last year.

While the decline is affecting the state tourism sector, it is also hitting the many restaurants, small hotels and taxi drivers in the nascent Cuban private sector that the United States says it wishes to support.