On June 16, US President Donald Trump announced that a previous decision made by the Obama administration relaxing travel restrictions on US travelers to Cuba would soon be reversed. This means that most American tourists would only be able travel to Cuba as part of organized educational trips, which must be authorized by the US government. Cuban Americans, however, would not be subject to these restrictions and would still be permitted to travel to the island independently.
The relevant ministries will have 30 days (from June 16) to begin drafting the new regulations. Given the past confusion surrounding other travel bans introduced by the White House in recent months (such as the overturned ban on travelers from a number of Muslim-majority countries), it remains unclear when or if the restrictions will actually be approved and implemented.
The official justification for the proposed clampdown on private travel to Cuba is to cut financial revenue to the Cuban government and military due to human rights concerns. Under current law, tourism travel to Cuba is still officially banned but the ban was no longer being strictly enforced. US nationals currently just have to check one of 12 approved “reasons” for travel when booking their trips, such as educational, religious, or humanitarian.
Some other measures introduced by the Obama administration in a bid to begin normalizing Cuba-US relations, such as the reopening of the US Embassy in Havana, will remain in place.
US nationals wishing to travel to Cuba are advised to follow developments to the situation and to contact their travel companies for more information.
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