Travel Restrictions To Cuba Coming Back? Travel Restrictions To Cuba Coming Back?

Travel Restrictions To Cuba Coming Back?

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The thawing of relations with Cuba and the relaxing of various restrictions under President Obama is coming to an end after President Trump signed an order designed to roll back some of the changes and make it more difficult for individual American travelers and businesses to deal with Cuba.

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How Will The Order Affect Travel To Cuba?

The order itself is not a Cuba travel ban; instead, it orders the U.S. Department of the Treasury / Department of Commerce to begin writing new regulations that roll back some of the Obama changes within 30 days. If you have made any travel arrangement prior to June 16, 2017 announcement, they will not be affected at all even if the trip has not occurred yet. Per the Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) document:

“The announced changes do not take effect until OFAC issues new regulations. Provided that the traveler has already completed at least one travel-related transaction (such as purchasing a flight or reserving accommodation) prior to the President’s announcement on June 16, 2017, all additional travel-related transactions for that trip, whether the trip occurs before or after OFAC’s new regulations are issued, would also be authorized, provided the travel-related transactions are consistent with OFAC’s regulations as of June.16, 2017.”

What Changes Are Coming?

The main change is making it illegal for US Citizens to conduct business with any Cuban Military or Government business entity. This could prove very awkward for US citizens since the GAESA, which is an arm of the Cuban Military, controls most of the tourism in the country including many bars, hotels, and restaurants. Any transaction with one of these GAESA establishments would be illegal for US Citizens.

Group travel regulations have not changed, you can still visit Cuba and support local businesses. Even US companies like Airbnb who work with local people can continue operating. Similarly, GAESA does not operate any of Cuba’s Airports or Cruise Terminals, which means that airlines and Cruise ships can continue relatively unhindered. On the other hand, hiring a boat from one of Cuba’s marinas would probably be illegal since they are operated by GAESA.

The main aim of the changes is to defund the Cuban government and cut off financing from US tourists, and instead, direct US tourist dollars towards the local population.


In the long run, these changes are bound to have a negative impact on US tourism to Cuba. Ultimately Marriott/SPG may be forced out of Cuba altogether. However, it seems that the Cuban Military is making some changes and may relinquish control of  GAESA, which would take a huge burden out of doing business in Cuba.

Overall, only time will tell how negative an impact the new changes will have on the level of US tourism to Cuba. But even after the changes, there are still plenty of legal reasons which enable you to travel to Cuba.

Source: Travel Codex

4.8 / 5 - (6 votes)
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  • Toni olsen says:

    Too bad. This really only hurts the Cuban people. Makes no sense to me.

  • A huge change this announces is ending what the document calls “individual people-to-people travel”. For a brief recent period, you could go to Cuba just by checking a box saying you were doing a “person-to-person” quasi-educational tour, and nobody ever checked up on you. Now it seems there’s no easy way for Americans to just travel Cuba independently.

    I was in Havana last December and saw tons of American tourists. Hard to imagine those numbers won’t plummet.

  • Have known plenty who have gone and loved it. Mainly Europeans. Last administration did not get any concessions. I think the art of the deal would have been to strike new better deal. Not just restricting US spending. Good ideas to try forcing Cuba to relinquish control of tourism into hand of general population. Once they got taste for US $$ the Cuban government was ready to expand tourism

  • its nice to play hardball but the people of cuba are the ones getting hurt the most , if less tourist go , be less jobs

  • I’ve spoken to several friends about this and they plan to go with or without permission.

  • The_Bouncer says:

    Do you know if this affects non-US citizens travelling from the USA?

  • Still seems more political than anything. I’ll still go, but the unnecessary hoops to jump through are frustrating.

  • I believe these drastic changes from one administration to another not only makes us look silly internationally and not positive for anyone. Policies should be made longer than 4 years in advance. Travel wise this is a lose lose for most involved.

  • Alice Chen says:

    I wish politics would solve more problems for travelers rather than creating them.

  • Sebastian says:

    I dient really understand it: If I’m doing Europe – MIA – HAV -> is this with any Restrictions? Or am I free to go there?

  • Cuba didn’t seem ready for the huge increase in flights from the U.S.
    Airlines are surely reacting to the low numbers.

  • This stuff is getting extremely tiresome. Policies like these, presently being enacted are based upon small-mindedness, and the outdated notion of isolationism being protection. Globalism is the future, and the world will be better for it, like it or not.

  • I don’t see this having any effect many just hop on over from Canada or Cancun and I’m sure that will continue in the future.

  • Is there really a credible threat from Cuba these days, or is this all just political?

  • As far as I can tell, the airlines are pulling back from Cuba because far fewer people than expected even want to visit.

  • Will it actually make any effect? If most other countries allow travel to this region, would it be worth it in the long run?

  • It doesn’t sound like this would affect too many people if they really want to go there. It is important to highlight that a lot of our tourist dollars are not going directly to the locals and are likely going to the Cuba Military. It helps to be cognizant of this when making choices about what to do when visiting. i know that I wouldn’t rent a boat but will feel ok with staying at an AirBnB. Thanks for the info.

  • This is B.S.! The American and Cuban people both want this, but our inept leadership keeps treating Cuba like there’s an active missle buildup or something.

    • So you believe that allowing a few American hipsters to travel to Cuba to sip mojitos and smoke cigars is going to magically overthrow the Communist regime that has been brutalizing its own people for 50+ years?

  • does seem like a lot of bureaucracy

  • It’s a pity for people who love traveling a discover new countries and all the travel industry. Southwest already cut some flight in their program.

  • Excellent move by Trump. Obama cut a horrible deal, demanded and got nothing in return. Makes no sense to financially support a rabidly anti-American and brutally oppressive government.

  • The idea is to force Cuba to decentralize their government and create a tourism business that actually helps their citizens instead of the communist government. We should not be funding the Cuban military through tourism.

  • I have friends who just came back from Cuba and loved it.

    If the US government’s goal is to move Cuba toward democracy, allowing our citizens to go interact with Cuba’s citizens is a far better strategy than government to government punishment.

  • It’s hard to enforce. How does gov know you were eating in a GAESA cafe?

  • i thought if u have family there u still can go , could anyone say they have aunt , uncle and want to see them , im sure if u want to get to cuba its not going to be that hard

  • It doesn’t seem to be much of a big deal with airlines cancelling routes there already

  • I do not know anyone personally who has traveled to Cuba since the travel ban was lifted. These changes will not affect my family and friends.

  • Oh well, I just don’t have any skin in this game, as I don’t care to travel to Cuba unless it’s cheaper than say the Dominican Republic.

    What’s the harm in allowing travel? China is still communist. And trade and travel to China supports their government.

  • Too bad- every other western country allows travel there.

  • this is a complete waste of time as it will have no effect on those who wish to go there

    • Totally agree.

      The current administration has not demonstrated (other than the status quo) that the Cuban government presents a clear and present danger to the US.