New US Government Restrictions Make It Much Harder to Travel to Cuba

Nov 8, 2017

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The Trump administration announced on Wednesday that it’s imposing new travel and commerce restrictions on Cuba. In all, the new restrictions will make it harder for US citizens to visit the island nation. The new regulations will take effect on Thursday.

American citizens will be banned from doing business, including tourism-oriented business, with entities with links to Cuba’s military. You can expect to see restrictions on business dealings from everything from hotels to tourist agencies, rum makers, stores and more. In addition, the regulations will restrict US citizens from visiting Cuba with “people-to-people” visas, as is now the case as long as your visit falls into one of 12 categories.

If you’re looking to go, you’ll now have to go as part of an organized, US-owned company tour group. A representative from the tour group must accompany you on your travels.

The Trump administration released a list of hotels, marinas, stores and more that are owned by the Cuban military, which US citizens are now banned from visiting. The list includes 84 hotels around the country. Notably, the Sheraton in Havana is not on the list.

“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,” said US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

On a few quick searches with American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways, flights to Cuba are still bookable. According to the new regulations, if you have previously authorized travel booked and have completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or hotel reservation) prior to the June 16, 2017, announcement that stricter restrictions would eventually be implemented, you’ll still be allowed to go.

During his tenure, President Obama ended tough, decades-long restrictions on travel between the two nations, making it easier for American citizens to visit Cuba.

Airlines will surely be affected by these new regulations, as tourists will no longer be able to freely book their own flights directly with the airline. Instead, all travel to Cuba will have to go through an organized tour group. We will likely see cuts to frequencies offered on routes between the US and Cuba.

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