Cuba tour operators began to notice a curious thing in the dead of summer this year. Bookings to the island began to increase month over month, following a drastic slump.
“We’ve gotten back to a more normal situation over the past two to three months. Sales have really picked up,” said Collin Laverty, president of Cuban Educational Travel, which offers cultural, educational, event and luxury travel to Cuba.
The spike followed a rough patch when Cuba became a less appealing destination as Irma hit the island’s north coast in September 2017, the U.S. published confusing new regulations for travelers to the island, and the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert warning Americans to reconsider travel to Cuba in the wake of a mysterious ailment that made 26 Havana-based diplomats sick at their homes and two hotels.
The hurricane and publicity about the diplomats’ illnesses “dampened demand right at a time when travelers generally book trips for the winter season,” said Tom Popper, president of InsightCuba, which offers a wide variety of people-to-people tours to Cuba.