25 Moments that Mattered in 2015: To make our selection of 25 moments, we thought back to the stories that drove reader engagement and sparked discussion among both travel experts and the general public. Some stories were quick blips that represented bigger things while others were narratives that built slowly through out the year. Each one, though, spoke to where we are right now when it comes to the big business of global travel.
A year after President Obama told the world that the U.S. would re-establish relations with Cuba after a half century of hostility and silence, booking travel to Cuba is still a jagged ordeal for Americans.
Charter flights are still the best option for travel between the U.S. and Cuba as governments from both countries work to iron out agreements, and the lodging sector has seen only slightly more progress. Airbnb began listing Cuba properties earlier this year while hotel companies remain barred from opening on the island nation.
The number of U.S. travelers visiting Cuba is up about 40% year-over-year since Obama’s historic announcement. This coincided with TV personalities such as Anthony Bourdain and Conan O’Brien each hosting shows from Havana and other large Cuban cities, presenting a lively, diverse island in transition to American audiences. Cuba still has a long way to go before it’s the most popular Caribbean island on American’s travel wish lists, as search and booking data show, but the inevitable oncoming of direct flights and U.S. hotel chains will help position it on that path.
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Photo credit: People talk as they stand in a street blocked by a broken down classic car in Havana, Cuba. 118295 / 118295