A five-decade embargo on travel to Cuba hasn’t stop a record number of Americans who are finding ways to visit the island nation. According to a recent travel study, within just the first three months of 2014 more Americans visited Cuba than in all of 2013 from England, Germany, or France. How many exactly? Around 173,550 visited in just these three months. “The data confirms, although the Cuban government does not recognize it publicly, that the United States, even with the effect of the embargo, is the second greatest source of tourists to Cuba after Canada,” Emilio Morales who consulted in the study said. “The push in the first trimester has been huge,” he added.
Most visitors to the island are Cuban Americans who are visiting family, but a significant portion of people are coming via academic and cultural programs—another legal way to enter. And thanks to President Obama, it’s getting easier for Americans to visit. According to the Seattle Times: “In 2009, Obama lifted a limit put in place by former President George W. Bush allowing Cuban-Americans to travel to island country no more than once every three years to visit relatives. And in 2011, he reinstated the so-called ‘people-to-people’ trips, allowing U.S. citizens to apply for a travel license to participate in educational activities that promote contact with ordinary Cubans.”