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Trump's shift in U.S.-Cuba policy worries those in growing tourism industry

Cubans stand to lose if Trump closes doors, experts say

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HAVANA – When tourists stay in the a "casa particular" or private home through Airbnb, a Cuban makes about $2,700 a year, according to an Airbnb report. 

It beats the average annual Cuban salary of about $300. Since April of 2015, Airbnb reports more than half a million visitors have stayed at private homes on the island.

More and more homeowners in Havana are fixing their homes, so that they can take advantage of tourism. Collin Laverty, an expert in U.S.-Cuba relations, said it's a smart move. 

"We did a corporate retreat for Netflix last year, which was the first U.S. company to do a corporate retreat here," Laverty said. 

Laverty is the founder and president of Cuba Educational Travel, a 5-year-old company that offers all types of travel to the island.

"You have millions that work directly or indirectly with the tourism sector who are benefiting from the visit of Americans and travelers from other places in the world, so everyone is kind of waiting to see what will happen," Laverty said. 

Laverty and others in the tourism industry worry that a new cuba policy from President Donald Trump could really damage the inroads made so far, and most importantly, the economic benefits people on both sides are seeing from the burgeoning new relations between both countries.

"well it's cell phone providers that are now offering roaming services, all the major airlines that are offering daily flights -- all of them would be negatively affected," Laverty said. 

Engage Cuba, a lobbying group in the U.S. that is pushing for better relations with Cuba, recently published a study that shows reversing the current policy would cost the U.S. economy well over $6 billion for the remainder of Trump's term.They also estimate that about 12,000 American jobs would be lost.



About the Author:

In January 2017, Hatzel Vela became the first local television journalist in the country to move to Cuba and cover the island from the inside. During his time living and working in Cuba, he covered some of the most significant stories in a post-Fidel Castro Cuba.