Five months ago, President Trump pledged to reverse relations between Cuba and the United States, which the Obama administration thawed in 2015. Now, it seems like he’s following through. On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced that it’s imposing new travel and trade restrictions on Cuba. So what do these tight new regulations mean for travelers?
Americans will be barred from doing business with a long list of entities that have ties to Cuban military, intelligence, or security services (that includes tourism-related business such as state-run hotels, tourist agencies, marinas, rum makers, shops, and more). You can find a full list of restricted businesses here. U.S. tourists will also no longer be able to travel to Cuba on individual people-to-people exchange programs. Instead, they must book travel through an official U.S. tour group, and a member of that organization has to accompany them to the island-nation. Those who are visiting for educational purposes are required to visit with an American group or university. Although dozens of hotels in Havana are off limits, there are plenty of casa particulares (private houses and apartments), as well as many hotels run by civilians, that are available. U.S. airlines and cruise ships will continue to operate in Cuba under the new regulations.
Keep in mind that individual travel will still be allowed under 12 categories, which includes family visits, religious activity, and journalistic purposes, among others. The Treasury Department is asking U.S. citizens who travel to Cuba to keep records of what they did during their visit for five years to prove that they did not violate any U.S. laws, ABC News reports.
“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Wednesday.
If you have a flight booked or a trip planned you don’t have to cancel your trip. “For visitors, that means anyone who has ‘completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodations) prior to’ publication of the new regulations in the Federal Register on Thursday,” The Washington Post reports.
So can travelers still check the Caribbean island nation off their bucket list? The short answer is yes, but it will be a little bit more of a hassle.
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