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What you need to know about travel to Cuba following recent policy updates

On June 5, the U.S. government enacted new regulations on travel to Cuba, which in the words of TravelPulse “effectively end people-to-people tours that are the easiest way for Americans to currently visit the country.” They also ban passage by cruise ship to Cuba. But “while the Trump Administration has definitely made travel to Cuba more confusing for both suppliers and consumers, the administration has yet to eliminate the right to visit the country—at least for now.”

The first thing to note is that if you paid for all or part of a trip to Cuba prior to June 5, and your trip falls under the people-to-people category or is a cruise, your trip to Cuba will likely not be affected. You should check with your travel provider to be sure of what’s next for your trip, but in general already-booked travelers and arrangements are being grandfathered in.

A second TravelPulse story, meanwhile, focuses on another, larger point: You can still travel to Cuba as an American citizen if your visit qualifies as one of the approved categories listed here. The people-to-people category is now missing, but the second-most-used category, “Support for the Cuban people,” is still supported. You can read about what that means in official terms here, but it’s more important to recognize that tour operators will, for now, still be able to get you to Cuba. (It still makes sense to go with an operator that can get you your travel license and ensure you’re traveling legally.)

That said, the removal of the people-to-people category means that the experiences operators can offer in Cuba will change. As a result of the new Cuba travel policy, “some of the advantages of the more relaxed people-to-people experiences are now no longer available for travelers to Cuba. Visitors from the U.S. cannot stay in big hotels, they can’t eat at government-owned restaurants, etc.” Depending on your preferred style of travel, this may not be a bad thing. Citing “Support for the Cuban people,” your operator may book you for a stay in a privately owned home instead of a big hotel, or for a grilled lobster dinner at a paladar instead of something blander at a government-run restaurant.

The U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) has stated that the “new regulations are counter to [its] core belief in freedom of travel for Americans,” and that it will be advocating for a reverse of the policy changes. For now, know that you can still travel to Cuba.

More: Here’s a Q&A on the changes from the Department of the Treasury.

Related: 10 Things to Know About Travel to Cuba

 

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