New Rules For Traveling To Cuba
Fidel Castro is gone. Exploring Cuba is now a lot easier to visit. It’s also now more affordable. Word has it, President Obama is the one to thank (in part) for the loosening of the travel restrictions to Cuba. Now those of you who are simply leisure travelers are no longer restricted to being part of an educational tour (which outside of school programs are said to be expensive). While authorized educational travel is now less expensive, your trip plans are required to fit into one of the 12 official classifications. The categories include educational activities, humanitarian purposes, press activities, professional research and visiting family members. Despite these restrictions, however, you, the traveler are in charge regarding how long you visit, where you stay and what you do and how much money you spend there.
Here is a simple list of things you should know:
Scheduled Air Flights
As many as 110 non-stop flights from the U.S.A. to Cuba are now available.
You Don’t Need A Chaperone Anymore
Visitors are no longer required to be accompanied by a tour group chaperone.
American Hotel Chains Are Coming
American hotel chains such as Starwood and Marriott are up for federal approval to offer accommodations in Cuba.
Cuban Products For Personal Use
New regulations are now in place that will permit you to bring in as much as $400 per traveler in Cuban merchandise for individual personal use. There is one exception: You may only bring $100 of Cuban tobacco or alcohol.
Mail Service Restored
For the first time in over half a century, mail can now be sent directly from anywhere in the U.S.A. (Your postcards might get home before you do!)
You Can Make Your Own Plans
Travelers from the U.S. are now able to plan their own detailed schedule.
Now you can travel alone for the purposes of single, person-to-person educational travel. You just have to make sure you take part in a full itinerary of educational exchange pursuits. The Department of the Treasury and the Department of Commerce released a detailed statement about it noting that the changes took place March 16, 2016. On the other hand, you might want to hold off if you think you can book a beach vacation there yet. Despite the historic presidential visit, all travel to Cuba must still be educational. You must see cultural sights, visit museums and directly interact with the Cuban natives. Visitors are also required to keep specific records of their trip to Cuba for a period of five years. The press release states that you must indicate a “full-time” agenda of approved activities. Ah, but the new regulations will have a positive impact on your vacation fund.
The U.S. government hopes that this reduction of restrictions will have a positive impact on everyone involved. An official press release from both the Commerce and Treasury Departments reports that the goal is that more educational exchanges and related activities will help forge a new sense of civility, foster the independence of the Cuban people and otherwise create more interaction between travelers and the citizens of Cuba.
(All photographs are courtesy of original owner unless otherwise indicated.)