50 Years Of Mystique


The chief marketing officer for the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association doesn’t expect that Cuba will be rolling out the welcome mat for huge numbers of American tourists this year.

Matt Cooper told that there remain “some obstacles” in the way of unfettered American visitations, including Cuba’s ability to accommodate large numbers of additional visitors.

There are predictions in some quarters that if all restrictions on American travel to the communist island were lifted, Cuba would see at least a million American visitors a year.

That prospect is a somewhat troubling one for some Caribbean islands, which worry they’ll lose American marketshare to Cuba.

It also is creating speculation that Cuban hotel rates could climb markedly because of increased demand, making Cuba significantly more expensive for vacationers.

Cooper told during last week’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Nassau that there’s “50 some years of mystique” about Cuba among Americans, but added visiting the island is generally now an “expensive proposition” for them.

He added that the “Obama administration has done what it can do” to enable eased American travel to Cuba and other levels of American politicians must cooperate before all restrictions are ended.

“What we anticipate in 2016 is that it’s not going to move so fast [because of the US election campaign],” he continued.

Cooper said Cuba has been “very effective in leading with culture” when working to attract tourists to the island but added upgrades would be needed before the island’s infrastructure would impress many American vacationers.

Seen here during the opening night reception at Marketplace are tourism consultant Carrole Guntley; Bahamian tourism minister Obediah Wilchcombe; and Caribbean Tourism Organization secretary-general Hugh Riley.