Americans traveling to Cuba usually travel with the intent of helping the Cuban people. Recent data acquired from Cuba indicate that the current hotel rooms available on the island total 64798 hotel rooms. However, a seldom released figure is that of casa particulars or home stays, often the preferred accommodation route for Americans visiting Cuba, over the past 3 years, these home stay rooms have increased exponentially with 6115 rooms now being offered by private Cuban citizens to visiting tourists in 2013. Another figure that is startling, is the amount of private restaurants in Cuba which this year totals 2242 licensed private restaurants in Cuba. Raul Castro´s push to open the private sector seems to be firmly underway, as numbers of entrepreneurial Cubans increase exponentially across the island.
Americans visiting Cuba also tend to travel around more than visitors from other nations. Canadians being the most sedate visitors to the island, they tend to stay not only in one location but, also visit All-inclusive Hotels and seldom leave the confines of their chosen Cuban Hotel. The recent increase in American visitors is spurring a rethink of accommodations. The Cuban tourism ministry MINTUR is worried that any further easing of US travel restrictions to the island could leave many of their staple markets such as Canada, United Kingdom and Russia without enough rooms. Recent transcripts of speeches made by Manuel Marrero, Cuba´s tourism minister, indicate that the authorities are taking action now to increase hotel room numbers to 85,000 rooms by 2020 and casa particular numbers to 9000 rooms.
Other figures from Transtur, Cuba´s main Car Rental Company, show that the numbers of Americans who rent cars far exceeds the average percentage of any other nationality. So, while American visitors to Cuba are still counted in the 10´s of thousands, the amount who rent cars is extremely high.
Old Havana Hotels continue to be the main choice for Americans looking for Hotels stays in Cuba. Obviously, this is directly related to the people-to-people Cuba trips currently favored by Americans because Old Havana offers the most varied selection of locations where these programs can visit. Of course, tourist locations such as Varadero or Cayo Santa Maria, while popular with international visitors, are still largely devoid of the Cuban Culture Americans search. Furthermore, these purely tourist enclaves are difficult to match with People-to-People trips to the island.
As numbers of Americans visiting Cuba slowly increases, allied to possible further concessions by the Obama administration, it will be interesting to see if Americans gravitate to beach vacations like their Canadian neighbors or, whether they stick to a more culturally rich travel agenda as is the case today.