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Skift Take

75 million Americans ready to be marketed to? Travel brands, the time to start spending money on marketing is…now!

— Rafat Ali

As President Obama and the first family is in Cuba on a historic visit — the first by a sitting United States president in nearly 90 years — the interest of the U.S. tourist in spending a vacation in Cuba is sky high.

That much is in evidence from the interest of the U.S. travel industry to open up flights and hotels in the island nation, as culture, history, cuisine, and many other connections between the two countries converge. Airbnb, Starwood, and Marriott have officially signed on, while airlines are playing a waiting game. Last week the U.S. government further eased restrictions for Americans: now solo “educational” tourist are allowed visit to Cuba, though free leisure tourism is still not allowed.

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So what could be the demand from American travelers? A hint of it can be seen from the latest Skift survey of American adult Internet users, conducted this evening among more than 1,500 online users, as the media coverage of President Obama’s visit reached a fever pitch.

We asked: Are you interested in traveling to Cuba over the next year, as the country opens up? The topline answer: while more than 70 percent of Americans have no interest, about a quarter do, which translates into almost 75 million adult Americans that are interested in going to Cuba. About 4 percent of Americans said they have already been to Cuba, likely most of them over the last few decades.

Last year an estimated 100,000 American tourists visited, up from 50,000 the year before.

Of course interest doesn’t translate into intent, not by a large margin. But it does show the tremendous potential of Cuba as a tourist destination for Americans. This is really why the American and indeed Cuban travel industry players are tripping over each other to build up the connections and infrastructure as soon as humanly possible.

Some other observations based on further breakdown of demographic data from the results of the survey above:

  • More American men (28.5 percent) are interested in visiting Cuba than women (19.8 percent). Indeed more male Americans have already been to Cuba (5.7 percent) compared to women (2.5 percent).
  • The 25-34 (older millennials) are most interested (36.6 percent) in going to Cuba, most likely driven by intense curiosity of a land unknown, followed by the 55.64 age group (27.9 percent).
  • The U.S. Northeast is more interested in going to Cuba, according to our survey, though interest is pretty even spread across America.
  • Urban city dwellers in America have the most interest in visit Cuba, about 30 percent are interested to go in the next year.
  • The richer the Americans, the more they’re interested in going to Cuba. A full 60 percent of those making 150,000+ in yearly income want to go, which is a phenomenal level of interest. Add to that, about 46 percent of Americans making between $100K-$149K are interested in going over the next year.

Important: This single-question survey — not served to Skift users — was administered to the U.S. internet population March 20 2016, through Google Consumer Surveys, with about 1,500+ responses. The methodology is explained here

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