A year into renewed diplomatic relations between U.S. and Cuba, the island has been attracting a greater number of American tourists and students. Nathan Frandino reports.
With U.S.-Cuba relations normalizing... the two cultures appear to be in greater harmony than ever before. This year 150,000 U.S. citizens are expected to travel to Cuba, up from 91,000 last year. But apart from the growing tourism numbers, what's changed in the land of the former foe? (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. JOURNALIST AND OWNER OF THE "CUBA LIBRO", AN ENGLISH-LANGUAGE BOOKSTORE, CONNER GORRY, SAYING: "Concrete changes that are affecting the Cuban family, that are affecting the community, we are really not seeing that." U.S. journalist Connor Gorry has lived in Cuba since 2002, running the English-language bookstore "Cuba Libro." She says while she hasn't seen any changes, she's glad to see the two countries' relations dominating the political agenda. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. JOURNALIST AND OWNER OF THE "CUBA LIBRO", AN ENGLISH-LANGUAGE BOOKSTORE, CONNER GORRY, SAYING: "Cuba is going to be and is on the agenda of the candidates for presidency but also for Congress, which is very, very important because only Congress can lift the embargo. So, there's a lot up in the air right now, and I've been encouraged, seeing the negotiations, following the negotiations." Sharon Mandell, a U.S. tourist visiting for the second time this year, thinks Americans have a different idea about how Cuba is changing. (SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. TOURIST, SHARON MANDELL, SAYING: "I think America thinks it's going to happen very fast, and the press in America makes it seem like, you know, we all will be over here tomorrow. I think, my sense is Cuba wants it to go a little slower to preserve the Cuban character and I actually think that's probably a good idea." With even more U.S. visitors expected to travel there next year... it could be a matter of time before any real change emerges on the island.