Why most Americans interested in traveling to Cuba are not Floridians
Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island had the most Google searches
for Cuba travel per capita
Florida was seventh
Interest in Cuba has spiked on Google searches after major developments
with the U.S.
BY CHABELI HERRERA
Those most interested in visiting Cuba live in places you might not expect.
A survey of Google searches between March 1, 2015 and Feb. 29, 2016
reveals that travelers from New England surpass those from Florida in
Google searches about Cuba travel.
According to data compiled by digital-marketing company iQuanti, the
northeastern states of Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island top the
list with the most searches per capita of terms related to Cuba travel.
Florida, home to more than half of the country’s Cuban-American
population, comes in seventh on that list.
Based on the number of searches alone, California tops the list,
followed by Texas and Florida.
More than 7 million searches were made using 650 keywords relating to
Cuba travel. Meanwhile, travel to the island rose by 77 percent in 2015,
with 161,000 Americans visiting Cuba — not counting Cuban-Americans.
“What a lot of Americans are [saying] is, ‘Oh, the opening up between
the U.S. and Cuba, next thing you know there is going to be Starbucks
and McDonald’s and there is going to be a gentrification of the island,’
” said Tom Popper, president of insightCuba, the first U.S. travel
company to legally take Americans to Cuba on people-to-people tours in 2000.
Popper said that bookings through the insightCuba website have doubled
since December 2014, when President Barack Obama announced a loosening
of business and travel restrictions between U.S. and Cuba. Web traffic
to his site has quadrupled, Popper said.
Collin Laverty, president of Washington-based Cuba Educational Travel,
said his company also has seen the greatest interest from the Northeast
Laverty’s clients mirror the Google search results, with travelers from
Massachusetts, California, New York, Pennsylvania, and Florida
comprising the majority.
Popper, too, said that the New York metropolitan area, California,
Florida, Chicago, and Texas have historically been the most interested
populations, both because of the amount of travelers who originate in
those regions as well as their desire to learn more about Cuba.
Florida, he said, makes the list thanks to its large retirement
population, which is the age group that books the majority of
people-to-people trips through his organization. Cuban Americans still
comprise the majority of travelers to Cuba but through a family visa
unavailable to other Americans.
People-to-people visits, or cultural-immersion trips, are one of the 12
authorized visa categories for visits to the island — and the most
popular for Americans hoping to travel to Cuba. They usually involve
small groups, but thanks to recent policy changes, can be just one
individual visiting the island for cultural-exchange purposes. Still, no
beach lounging allowed.
MASSACHUSETTS, VERMONT AND RHODE ISLAND HAD THE MOST GOOGLE SEARCHES FOR
CUBA TRAVEL PER CAPITA. FLORIDA WAS SEVENTH.
Two cruise lines, Miami-based Fathom, part of Carnival Corporation, and
French luxury line Ponant, reached agreements with the Cuban government
to take Americans on cruises around the island through people-to-people
tours. Cuban-born Americans cannot visit the island by sea, according to
The agreements were finalized in late March and early April, after the
data was compiled. Still, major developments between Cuba and the U.S.
during the time period surveyed are reflected in spikes in search data
surrounding visits to Cuba.
According to the data compiled by iQuanti, searches for Cuba spiked in
the last year in July 2015, when embassies opened in Cuba and the U.S.,
and in January when airlines began applying to fly commercial flights
between the two countries.
Popper said each development legitimizes the traveler’s desire to visit
“Every time there is a positive news cycle that represents a greater
change then there is a larger sector of the U.S. public that says, ‘OK,
now I’m going to go to Cuba,’ ” he said.
Source: Why most Americans interested in traveling to Cuba are not
Floridians | Miami Herald –