On June 16, 2017, Donald Trump announced a number of changes to Obama’s relaxed engagement with Cuba.
“Effective immediately, I am cancelling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba,” said Trump in Miami, Florida. He stated Americans, “will not be silent in the face of communist oppression any longer,” then signed a document sanctioning Americans from conducting business with Cuban military-owned or -operated organizations amongst other changes.
After the announcement, The Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control, released an online FAQ guide highlighting the restrictions expected to change. We’ve compiled the five biggest takeaways from this document, as they pertain to American passport holders who want to visit Cuba.
- Americans can still visit Cuba, but new regulations and changes exist. Notably, individual people-to-people travel in Cuba is banned, while group people-to-people travel remains authorized. This means you have to book your tour through an organization like OUT Adventures.To be more specific, people-to-people is defined as “travel that: (i) does not involve academic study pursuant to a degree program; and (ii) does not take place under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact.”
- The document states clearly that bookings made before June 16, 2017 are unaffected by the new regulations. This includes partially complete bookings (so if you can prove you booked a flight to Cuba before June 16 with a digital receipt, you can book the rest of your trip later regardless of the new rules).
- Thanks to an exception, commercial airlines and cruise ships are unaffected by a policy banning business with Cuba’s military. You can still book direct flights to major destinations like Havana (where our tours begin), but many airlines have scaled back flights due to lack of demand. Book early to guarantee a seat and pay a reasonable price. You can read more about getting to Cuba here.
- Perhaps the most confusing issue is where Americans can stay and eat in Cuba. Trump’s new policy prohibits doing business with Cuba’s military, but given the country’s communist fundamentals, nearly every hotel, resort, restaurant and bar is owned by the military. Fortunately, we’ve always stayed at Casa Particulars (privately-owned B&Bs), and eaten in Paladares (privately-owned restaurants), which are legally licensed (whereas these same venues are too small for larger tour operators). Keep an eye on the White House blog for updates to this policy.
- According to The New York Times, Trump is authorizing The Treasury Department to ensure the U.S. government knows who’s going to Cuba and why. Any traveller on tour in Cuba is required to keep a thorough journal of daily activities to show an immigration agent, if requested. OUT Adventures will provide you with the necessary documents to do this.
To read the full document from the Treasury Department, click here. If you have any questions about your Out Adventures’ Cuba tour, please contact our sales department at either (CAN/US) 1-866-360-1152 or (International) +1-416-531-8795.