Travel agent expects more Americans to visit Cuba

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KIRKWOOD, MO (KTVI) - Travel agent Gig Gwin of Kirkwood is one of the few people who can claim he has been to every country in the world, including Cuba.

His most recent trip there was just two weeks ago.

'We had more fun than a barrel of monkeys,' Gwin said.

And now that travel restrictions for Americans are being reduced, Gwin expects to soon be busy booking Cuban adventures for other people.

'I do believe that Cuba will become the premiere destination in the Caribbean,' he said.

After relations between the U.S. and Cuba began to thaw about 15 months ago, the American government started granting travel licenses to U.S. citizens wanting to go to Cuba, as long as the person was going as part of a special tour group for one of 12 broad reasons, such as research or educational purposes.

But within the past few days, the rules have been relaxed.  Now, individuals can get a travel license by simply declaring they are going for one of those same 12 reasons.

'They can`t wait to get more Americans down there,' Gwin said.

As for getting there, regular commercial air service should become a lot easier in the next two to three months.

'It looks like at least American Airlines, and maybe Jet Blue and a couple of others ones are going to have regular service and it won`t be just out of Miami, it will also be out of places like New York or Dallas or Atlanta.

Gwin says Americans are finding the most striking thing about Cuba is the obsession Cubans have for old American cars--- they are everywhere.

On the other hand, hotel rooms are harder to come by, as is drinkable water.

'I was forced to consume large quantities of Mojitos to keep away from the ill-fated water supply they have there,' he said.

But despite Cuba`s shortcomings, Gwin says he thinks the best time to see the country is sooner rather than later.

'I would say the next year and a half is the best time to go because it is the old Cuba; there won`t be a Starbucks or a McDonalds or a Walgreens on every corner but there will be in two or three years, you can count on that.'

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