(Adds analyst comment)
By Sarah Marsh and Matt Spetalnick
HAVANA/WASHINGTON, June 1 U.S. cruise operators
and airlines stand to lose around $712 million in annual
revenues if the Trump administration fully reinstates
restrictions on travel to Cuba, Washington lobby group Engage
Cuba said in a report released on Thursday.
U.S.-operated cruises and scheduled flights to the Caribbean
island were relaunched last year after a half-century hiatus, as
part of the detente with Cuba pursued by former President Barack
That may be under threat as U.S. President Donald Trump's
administration considers reinstating some of the restrictions on
travel and trade eased by Obama as it prepares to roll out a new
Cuba policy as early as this month.
"Rolling back expanded travel will cost airlines $512
million annually ... based on the average ticket fare," Engage
Cuba wrote in the report to which a host of Cuba experts
U.S. airlines flying to Cuba include JetBlue,
American, Delta and Alaska.
Cruise operators, from Carnival to Norwegian
, stand to lose $200 million in revenue per year, Engage
Cuba estimated, noting thousands of jobs in both sectors were at
risk. The estimate was based on lost revenue from fully booked
flights and cruises.
Eliminating cruises to Cuba could also cost South Florida's
economy an additional $212.8 million, given what passengers
spend in port communities, Cuba Engage said.
The study likely overestimates the economic impact of a
rollback, some Cuba experts said, as Trump is not expected to
unravel the entire detente.
"First, tightening regulations does not mean severing
completely certain U.S.-Cuba economic ties," said Paolo Spadoni,
Associate Professor of Political Science at Augusta University.
"Second, what about the gains of charter companies if
commercial flights are discontinued?"
Supporters of the U.S.-Cuban detente are stepping up their
lobbying to influence the Trump administration review.
A bipartisan group of U.S. senators last week reintroduced
legislation to repeal all restrictions on travel to Cuba, this
time attracting far more co-sponsors.
U.S. tourism to Cuba is still not allowed, but Obama's
decision to ease travel restrictions fueled a boom in American
visitors under categories like educational travel. The number of
U.S. visitors rose 74 percent last year.
(Reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana and Matt Spetalnick in
Washington; Editing by Richard Chang and Chris Reese)