The Next Vacation Hot Spot: Cuba?

And think of the tourism possibilities. While I doubt we'd ever see a return to the casinos of the dictator Batista's day (unless Donald Trump is looking for a new challenge), some U.S. tourism officials expect Cuba "to rapidly improve its infrastructure and accommodations for tourists" as soon as travel restrictions are lifted.

And think what a boon this would be to Hollywood. In "Godfather II," the travel ban forced the filmmakers to shoot Cuban scenes in the Dominican Republic, while Warren Beatty's "Bugsy" used buildings in Los Angeles and Pasadena to stand-in for Havana's venerable Hotel Nacional de Cuba. The hotel's still there, although Meyer Lansky and his pals are long gone. Maybe it's time for the Nacional to make a comeback.

Looking Ahead

Who knows? Perhaps Cuba would one day be a prime area for investors looking to score off tourism.

In the meantime, Cuba might want to hurry up with its hotel improvements. One congresswoman expects the easing of family visits alone will triple the number of visitors flying into Havana to nearly 30,000 per month. And at least one airport is looking ahead, too.

Family members are now allowed to fly to Cuba from New York, Los Angeles and Miami, but Tampa International is asking to be the fourth airport to play host to U.S.-Cuba charters.

And if the travel ban for the rest of us is eased or eliminated, it might provide a lift for our economy, too -- perhaps with increased revenues for airlines prescient enough to move quickly.

And hey, wouldn't it be nice to erase the ominous old images of hijacking maniacs and replace them with digital pix of happy, smiling tourists?

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Rick Seaney is one of the country's leading experts on airfare, giving interviews and analysis to news organizations, including ABC News, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, The Associated Press and Bloomberg. His Web site FareCompare.com offers consumers free, new-generation software, combined with expert insider tips to find the best airline ticket deal.

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