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The US’s recent announcement of the lifting of restrictions on visits and transfers to Cuba is predicted to bring a huge boost to the island’s economy, tourism and by extension, property investment.

After over five decades of being subjected to severe limitations from its giant neighbour, the recent changes mean Cuba is set to receive thousands more visitors a year.

Although the new regulations do not end the trade embargo imposed by the US on Cuba, the lifting of certain restrictions is expected to make a significant difference to relations between the two countries.

Under the new rules, Americans with family in Cuba will be permitted to make unlimited visits to the island for as long as they like. They are also allowed to take US$3,000 in cash with them and make any number of transfers throughout the year. Previous restrictions meant that only Americans with close Cuban relatives were allowed to travel to Cuba with US$1,200 and then only once every 18 months for a limited period of time.

In addition to relaxing travel and monetary restrictions, the US will improve telecommunications between the two countries. American telephone companies will be allowed to enter the Cuban market and Americans permitted to pay for Cuban mobile phone accounts as well as send mobiles and computers to the island.

The US authorities are also working on increasing flight options between the US and Cuba, currently limited to charter and private flights only. Scheduled flights are planned for the near future meaning that Americans will be able to fly directly to Cuba – they currently have to travel via a third country.

Many American politicians are also calling for an end to the ban on Americans visiting Cuba – US nationals without Cuban relatives travelling to the island currently face a US$7,000 fine.

The expected injections of cash, improved telecommunications and flights are expected to make a massive difference to the Cuban economy. US tourists represent a huge potential market for Cuban tourism and the International Monetary Fund predicts that as many as 3.5 million Americans could visit the island annually. However, it is widely believed that Cuban authorities will initially restrict this figure to just 500,000 to allow Cuba’s tourist infrastructure to cope with the influx.

“As the largest and most varied island in the Caribbean, Cuba has extraordinary potential for tourism and property investment,” comments James Gonzalez, Market Analyst at Obelisk Investment Property. “This potential is currently untapped, but I believe the relaxing of US restrictions will see the start of great change on the island. Cuba is definitely a rising star in the Caribbean,” says James.


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