Ha, ha, ha…. From our esteemed Schadenfreude bureau:
Americans are not traveling to Cuba in great numbers. Not yet, anyway.
But they’re not staying away because of ethical or human rights issues.
The island’s apartheid system and its political repression have nothing to do with it.
Americans are holding back on travel to Castrogonia because it is too expensive and it requires jumping through more hoops than usual.
And the reason Castrogonia has become so expensive is not just due to supply-and-demand issues, but to the greediness of the Castronoids who run the entire tourist industry and foolishly think that Americans are aching to travel to the island slave plantation at any cost.
Cuba Isn’t Working Out as a Very Popular Destination So Far
America, did you miss the travel industry’s memo declaring Cuba the hottest new destination?
Apparently. Service to the long-time U.S. foe began in September, but after just five months the largest carrier to the island, American Airlines Group Inc., cut daily flights by 25 percent and switched to smaller jets on some routes. Meanwhile, Silver Airways Corp. reduced weekly flights to six Cuban cities and JetBlue Airways Corp. downsized its planes so as to match lower-than-expected demand.
“It’s going to take a really, really long time for [Cuba] to become a Caribbean destination that’s as popular as some of the other ones,” Andrew Levy, the chief financial officer for United Continental Holdings Inc., told Bloomberg News in November.
While the rest of the Caribbean is hopping with the U.S. winter break crowd, Cuba has some unique problems. The big one is that airlines, with no real idea about demand, were overly ambitious when they jousted for the limited routes allowed by U.S. regulators. With a mandate for only 110 daily U.S. flights—20 into Havana, the most popular destination—the carriers tumbled over each other last year to get a piece of the pie, leaving the island oversubscribed.
The air rush into Cuba “wasn’t based on demand but speculation. They had no history to look at,” said Karen Esposito, general manager of Cuba Travel Network, which specializes in tours to the island. Now they do.
Silver Airways described additional obstacles, pointing to the complications accompanying U.S. travel arrangements to Cuba, along with too much capacity from larger carriers. Still, spokeswoman Misty Pinson said, the Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based airline “is optimistic about the future growth potential in Cuba.”
Former President Barack Obama announced an opening of relations with Cuba in December 2014, calling previous U.S. policy, which sought to isolate the communist government, a failure.
But with liberalization has come a painful lesson in capitalism—for tourists, anyway. The new interest in Cuba led to rapid price inflation (as much as 400 percent) for state-run hotels, taxis, and other traveler services—before any U.S. commercial flights had begun. Some rooms now cost as much as $650 per night, serving as a major deterrent to Americans hunting for novel warm-weather destinations.
Even the costs of classic car rides and dinners at popular paladares, private restaurants run by families, have in some cases tripled, Insight Cuba says. Prices have begun to moderate this year for the first time since 2014, the company said this week. But beyond the high prices lie additional difficulties for U.S. tourists.
“The airlines are also competing with limited hotel availability,” Popper said. And “you cannot pay for a room with a U.S. credit card, so you have to actually bring the cash. You’re going to be carrying around $2,500 to $3,000 in cash just to pay for the hotel room. And then you need to carry more cash to pay for other things you want to do.”
Cuba-curious Americans must also compete for winter lodging with sun-seekers from Canada and the U.K., who face no bureaucratic hurdles in booking their holiday.
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