Travel searches for Cuba surge 10 times after visa-free policy announced, direct flights with China to resume
Published: May 16, 2024 10:29 PM
City view of Havana, capital of Cuba Photo: VCG

City view of Havana, capital of Cuba Photo: VCG

Online travel searches for Cuba have skyrocketed after Cuba announced a visa-free policy for Chinese citizens in early May.

Direct flights are set to resume from Friday. The surge in tourists' interest showcased an optimistic outlook for personnel exchanges and economic vitality between China and Cuba, analysts said.

As of Thursday, online travel searches for Cuba were up nearly 10 times month-on-month, according to data that Fliggy, a China-based travel platform, sent to the Global Times on Thursday.

Searches for flight tickets from China to Cuba skyrocketed more than 30 times on a monthly basis.

As the summer vacation - from early July to early September - for Chinese students approaches, Fliggy expects a surge of Chinese tourists going to Cuba, marking the first peak since the visa exemption for Chinese citizens was announced on May 4.

Tickets for direct flights from Beijing, China's capital city to Havana, Cuba's capital city, are on sale on some Chinese travel platforms. Such tickets cost about 7,800 yuan ($1,080) on travel platform Qunar.

The flights, which open on Friday, will operate twice a week. They were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The rise of Chinese tourists, with their increasing spending power, is expected to boost Cuba's economic development, Zhou Mi, a senior research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"Businesspeople will also utilize the direct air route for easier access to Cuba and even destinations in Latin American countries, which will further support economic and trade activities," Zhou said, adding that the resumption of the direct flight showcases the willingness for personnel exchanges between China and Cuba.

Cuba's economy has been under pressure for a long time, given the US economic sanctions and blockade on the movement of people, said Zhou.

The potential for increasing personnel exchanges and commercial cooperation between China and Cuba is huge, which will boost Cuba's economic development, Pan Deng, director of the Latin American and Caribbean Region Law Center of the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Thursday.

"More frequent travel and business visits by Chinese citizens can also be expanded to other Latin American countries if they also develop favorable visa policies for Chinese travelers and business personnel," said Pan.

Global Times