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


U.S. cruise operators and airlines stand to lose around $712 million in annual revenues if the Trump administration fully reinstates restrictions to 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 [NCLH.O], 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.