In June 2017, President Trump made it clear that he intended to keep his campaign promise of repealing Obama-era policies that opened Cuba’s doors for Americans interested in visiting the island nation. What was left unclear were the specifics of how this would impact travel agents and tour operators booking clients on vacations to Cuba—unclear until last week.
On Nov. 8, 2017, the U.S. State Department announced the specific restrictions Americans will now face when traveling to Cuba. The most notable policy change is that individual travel is now prohibited. This does not affect tour operators and cruise lines taking guests to the island as group travel as the People-to-People visa is still allowed.
“Moving forward, Americans can continue to travel to Cuba through a licensed U.S. tour operator,” said Terry Dale, president & CEO, United States Tour Operators Association in press materials.
In June, President Trump also stated that Americans would no longer be permitted to stay in hotels affiliated with the Cuban military, intelligence or security services. Last week’s announcement also brought clarity to that restriction with the U.S. State Department publishing a list of banned hotels. There are currently 83 properties on the list, most of which were not frequented by Americans anyway. Tour operators were left mostly unaffected as they have been anticipating this announcement for months and had already adjusted their itineraries if necessary.
For tour operators and cruise lines, it is mostly business as usual since Obama’s opening of relations with Cuba, so agents looking to send their clients to the island can continue to do so. “Although these regulations have restricted some opportunities for Americans travel to Cuba, it’s important to remember that Cuba remains open for business,” Dale noted.
For agents who would like to experience Cuba for themselves, Sunny Land Tours offers a 4-day FAM trip focusing on Havana’s history, culture and cuisine. Highlights of the trip include touring Hemingway’s trail and Old Havana, experiencing El Canonazo ceremony, enjoying a performance of El Cabaret Parisienne at Hotel Nacional, and more.
Pricing for the trip starts at $999 pp with daily departures available through October 2018. Included in the price are three nights of first-class hotel accommodations in Havana, daily breakfast, two lunches, and one dinner, all transportation within Cuba, as well as escorted guided tours and visits including admission fees.
For more information, visit travel.sunnylandtours.com.