HAVANA (CBSMiami) – Tourism is a top topic during President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Cuba.
An estimated 10 million Americans are expected to visit the island country every year.
With just 61,000 hotel rooms on the entire island, you can imagine the strain that’s going to have while the United States loosens the restrictions on travel.
Crowds of tourists checked in at hotel lobbies across the country, all wanting to see Cuba before McDonald’s and Starbucks beat them to it.
One hotel was booked solid for the next three months.
“It’s a little difficult to get a room here,” a hotel representative said with a laugh.
The government has been sending many visitors out of Havana and to the beaches to relieve the infrastructure.
The director of a local charter company recommends to book six months to a year in advance.
“We doubled the amount of hotels and ground services from 2014-2015. We had, I would say an 80 percent increase on how many hotels, cars, trans-ground transportation, coordination of travel,” she said. “And in 2016, we are looking at incrementing from 15, another 45 to 50 percent.”
Hotel chain Starwood just signed a deal in Cuba. Marriott also has the greenlight.
Marriott President and CEO Arne Sorenson is on the island to discuss his next move.
“There’s a sense of history here – of culture, of architecture, it’s close – so people want to come. We would obviously like to be here when they come,” Sorenson said.
Miami-based Carnival Corporation announced Monday Cuba granted approval for the company to begin traveling to the island.
Starting on May 1st, Carnival will sail from Miami to Cuba with its newest brand “Fathom.”
It marks the first time in over 50 years a cruise ship is approved to travel from the U.S. to Cuba.
And all of this is trickling down to the private sector as well.
One couple moved to Havana from Italy where they run a restaurant out of their home, known in Cuba as a paladar.
“I have seen many change in the restaurant business here in Cuba,” the restaurant owner said. “I see many Cuban families coming to eat. Before, it was mostly tourists. Cuban families couldn’t afford to eat at a place like this.”
CBS4’s Eliott Rodriguez and Rudabeh Shahbazi are in Havana for this historic trip and will have live coverage on CBS4 News.
Click here to read more about U.S.- Cuba Relations.