The Trump administration announced new rules Wednesday, November 8th to make it tougher for U.S. businesses to work in Cuba and for Americans to travel to the island. These restrictions finally clarified what Trump in June described as plans to “reverse the Obama-era diplomatic opening with the communist-ruled island.” From our perspective, the announcement was expected. The announcement will not fundamentally change what those of us providing educational and group people-to-people services are already doing.
For our friends and collaborators that have signed up for a tour or organized their own, there will be a “grandfathering” in of the new regulations. For those traveling on our people-to-people tours, remember that group people-to-people tours are still permitted. Additionally, all of our tours have a full-time local translator and guide, and there is always a representative of the co-sponsoring organization/institution on the tour. We are thus confident in reiterating that AltruVistas Cuba operations and private customized journeys for groups are compliant with the new Cuba travel regulations and US law governing those subject to US jurisdiction.
For most of our travelers leaving November thru July of next year, remember that OFAC has notified us all that we have a grandfathering-in period. Thus commercial transactions and most travel arrangements made prior to the changes will be permitted.
For those that we are in negotiations with, we will have to modify perhaps the hotels we have booked.
Honestly, the “new” news is the list of hotels and businesses that are off legal limits. While we anticipated the Gaviota restrictions preemptively (Gaviota operates an estimated 40 percent of all the island’s hotel rooms, in addition to controlling a number of restaurants, shops, tour groups, car rentals and taxis) we did not the anticipate the restrictions on the Habanaguex chain. Thus some future group reservations must be modified.
Please know that we will ensure that our travelers are informed of how they are traveling legally to Cuba and that we will usher in changes to be in compliance.
While we disagree with the Trump Administration’s position toward Cuba and believe that travel is a constitutional right in the US and that travel benefits both the US traveler and our Cuban hosts, we must do our due diligence and ensure all of our programs are in compliance.
We look forward to the day when the US embargo and its travel restrictions are lifted.