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Travel Despite Roadblocks, Havana Is Hot for Travelers

If you're planning a trip for 2014, you may be looking for a place off the beaten path where you won't see throngs of other travelers. If that place is Cuba's capital city, you may find travel to the island is becoming more difficult again.

Havana was the No. 1 ranked destination among the world's top 10, according to TripAdvisor's just-released Travelers Choice Destinations on the Rise. The awards highlighted 54 spots globally that have seen the greatest increase in positive traveler feedback and traveler interest compared with the year prior.

"Despite restrictions on visiting Cuba for Americans, there are now some limited opportunities to visit, such as through educational tours and family visits, that have not previously existed for decades," said Barbara Messing, chief marketing officer for TripAdvisor. "As many global travelers are well aware and as reflected in the feedback from millions of TripAdvisor travelers, Havana is an outstanding destination with growing appeal."

But travel to Cuba, which had become easier in recent years, may once again become difficult for American travelers. Cuba is shutting down nearly all of its consular services in the United States until further notice, Reuters reported. It blamed the situation on the longstanding U.S. economic embargo. The shutdown includes passport and visa processing.

Close to 100,000 Americans visited Cuba in 2012, according to the Cuban government, under the Obama administration's people-to-people policy of cultural and academic exchanges, Reuters reported last week. Around 350,000 Cuban Americans visit relatives in Cuba each year, according to travel industry estimates.

The Top 10 Destinations on the Rise:

1. Havana, Cuba

2. La Fortuna de San Carlos, Costa Rica

3. Kathmandu, Nepal

4. Jerusalem, Israel

5. Cusco, Peru

6. Ambergris Caye, Belize

7. Sapporo, Japan

8. Hanoi, Vietnam

9. Corralejo, Spain

10. Fortaleza, Brazil

"For travelers looking for inspiration for their 2014 travel planning, TripAdvisor travelers have helped us put a spotlight on some amazing destinations that caught the eye of travelers this past year," said Messing. "Between large cities gathering steam and off-the-beaten-path spots surfaced by our community, travelers can discover wonderful accommodations, attractions and restaurants in all of these award-winning destinations." ...