U.S. travel sector to suffer if Trump reverses Cuba detente -report

U.S. travel sector to suffer if Trump reverses Cuba detente -report

By Sarah Marsh and Matt Spetalnick
| HAVANA/WASHINGTON, June 1

U.S. cruise operators
and airlines stand to lose around $712 million in annual
revenues if the Trump administration fully reinstates
restrictions on travel to Cuba, Washington lobby group Engage
Cuba said in a report released on Thursday.

U.S.-operated cruises and scheduled flights to the Caribbean
island were relaunched last year after a half-century hiatus, as
part of the detente with Cuba pursued by former President Barack
Obama. That may be under threat as U.S. President Donald Trump’s
administration nears completion of a policy review to determine
how far it would reverse that engagement.

“Rolling back expanded travel will cost airlines $512
million annually … based on the average ticket fare,” Engage
Cuba wrote in the report to which a host of Cuba experts
contributed.

U.S. airlines flying to Cuba include Jetblue,
American, Delta and Alaska.

Cruise operators, from Carnival to Norwegian
, stand to lose $200 million in revenue per year, Engage
Cuba estimated, noting that thousands of jobs in both sectors
were at risk. The estimate was based on lost revenue from fully
booked flights and cruises.

Eliminating cruises to Cuba could also cost South Florida’s
economy an additional $212.8 million, given what passengers
spend in port communities, Cuba Engage said.

Supporters of the U.S.-Cuban detente are stepping up their
lobbying to influence the Trump administration review.

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators last week reintroduced
legislation to repeal all restrictions on travel to Cuba, this
time attracting far more co-sponsors.

U.S. tourism to Cuba is still not allowed, but Obama’s
decision to ease travel restrictions fueled a boom in American
visitors under categories like educational travel. The number of
U.S. visitors rose 74 percent last year.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana and Matt Spetalnick in
Washington; Editing by Richard Chang)