It has been reported that since Barack Obama arrived in Cuba in a move to continue rebuilding ties between the USA and Cuba that Priceline Group has agreed to make Cuban hotel rooms available on Booking.com, thereby becoming the first US travel agency to strike a deal with the nation.
The deal comes on the back of another US hotel firm, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide agreement with the Cuban government to manage and market three hotel properties in the city of Havana.
These deals, along with the visit of President Obama bode well for the Cuban people, who have suffered through five decades of frosty relations between their government and the US government. When the trade embargo was placed on Cuban goods by the US government, it struck a major blow to their government as many of the famous cigar companies were forced to relocate to other nations, in order to continue to export their product to America.
Now, thanks to the work of President Obama, and he Cuban President, Raul Castro, there is hope that Cuban economy may be able to develop and become more autonomous from the government.
The tourism industry in the island nation has already begun to feel the impact of the thaw in relations and has actually felt the strain of the increased traffic, with prices for hotel rooms having surged since 2014, many of which are booked out months in advance. In 2015 Cuba received 3.52 million visitors in 2015, up 17.4% from 2014. The number of visitors travelling to the USA from Cuba rose by 77% to 161,000. However, at present it is still technically illegal for tourists to travel to Cuba from the US it is possible through the use of “general licenses” for purposes such as religion, family visits and sports. Though, if the last 15 months are anything to go by, it might soon be possible for US citizens to travel freely to Cuba, and vice-versa, can only stand to aid the development of the Cuban economy.
By Bill Horan