Cuban vacation prices likely to rise for Canadians, expert says

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If Americans are soon allowed to travel freely to Cuba, Canadians can expect to pay 20% to 30% more for all-inclusive vacations on the Caribbean island, a Toronto travel expert said Wednesday.

Travel Nation Canada president Jonathan Carroll said while the U.S. still only issues visas in 12 categories — including family visits, government business, journalistic, educational and religious activities — he predicted open season for all American tourists down the road in light of the U.S. announcing it would re-establish diplomatic relations after more than 50 years.

“(Wednesday) was a massive change in attitude from the Americans and the Cubans,” Carroll said. “It’s going to change dramatically as a destination.

“Cuba has been a very price-conscious destination supported traditionally by Canada — you have 800,000 plus Canadians going there. This has a real effect.”

Carroll said if the embargo is lifted, entrepreneurs who have hotels in Cuba may have the opportunity to charge more as more tourists flock to the country.

“When supply and demand changes, we know prices go up,” he said. “I think you’ll see things change as things go on. What will be the investment in the infrastructure like hotels? There’s so many issues that you can put up in the air.”

Another travel expert, however, is taking a wait-and-see policy to judge the effects of what lifting the economic embargo might have.

“We’ll have to wait for further announcements in years two, three and four,” Loren Christie said. “One can only assume that if they’re taking this one step that there’s going to be further steps in the future, but there’s no timeline on that.

“Cuba is one of the top four destinations, so I don’t think Cuba is going to crank up the prices. You see the product getting better, but prices remaining the same. It’s just keeping up with the Joneses.”