Oct. 19 - New statistics released by the Cuban government show more than 98,000 U.S. citizens traveled to Cuba in 2012, up from about 73,000 the year before. Sarah Irwin reports.
Despite travel restrictions - Americans are visiting Cuba in record numbers. New statistics released by the Cuban government show more than 98,000 U.S. citizens traveled to the communist-run island in 2012 - up from about 73,000 in 2011. These numbers don't include visits by U.S. diplomats - or the estimated hundreds of thousands of Cuban Americans who travel home each year. American tourist Robert Batha said getting to Cuba is difficult - but worth it. SOUNDBITE: Robert Batha, U.S. tourist on cultural exchange in Cuba, saying: "It's not easy. We don't get to travel directly to Cuba. We came through Cancun, through Mexico. I don't think we're officially supposed to be here but we're on a cultural exchange because we're all avid photographers." The rise in U.S. tourism is linked to the loosening of travel restrictions by the Obama administration. Cuban Americans now are allowed to visit to their native country freely - and, under a program launched in 2011, the U.S. government grants licenses for educational and cultural groups to travel to Cuba