Tourists and locals sit on a wall along the waterfront in Havana; Aug. 25, 2010.
As many as 400,000 U.S. citizens are expected to visit Cuba by year's end, Nick Miroff reports from Havana for NPR. That's five times more than in 2008, the year before the Obama administration lifted travel restrictions for those with family on the island, and a number not seen since before the Cuban revolution.
Nick says the boom has convinced Cuban officials to double capacity at one of the country's airport terminals. And now, scenes of "tearful Cuban emigres rushing to embrace their relatives, their baggage carts loaded with Santa-sized sacks of gifts," are common.
Reuters notes that since "more than 1,000 travelers from the United States are arriving every day ... Havana's long-time foe (is now) its second source of visitors after Canada."
Nick's going to have more on today's All Things Considered. Click here to find an NPR station that broadcasts or streams the show. While reporting, he spoke with 71-year-old Juan Francisco Hernandez, who now gets regular visits from a brother who lives in Miami. It would be a "huge benefit" to both Cuba and the U.S. if travel rules were further eased, Hernandez says (Nick provides the translation):
Update at 6:20 p.m. ET: Our colleague Claire O'Neill over at The Picture Show, by the way, has put together a post about Cuba In Revolution, an exhibition at the International Center of Photography. She writes that "what's truly special about this show is the selection of imagery by Cuban photographers. People like Alberto Korda, Raul Corrales and Jose Figueroa, whose work is being shown pretty much for the first time."
Claire has a slide show with her piece. Here's one of the images, which offers a glimpse into how one U.S. tourist enjoyed himself in Cuba back in the day:
Constantino Arias/Courtesy ICP/International Art Heritage Foundation
An American tourist at the Hotel Nacional, Havana, 1950s
An American tourist at the Hotel Nacional, Havana, 1950s Constantino Arias/Courtesy ICP/International Art Heritage Foundation