If you’ve read the news lately, you’ve likely seen a lot of conversations swirling around the Trump Administration’s latest policies on US travel to Cuba. With social media and online news outlets fraught with frightening headlines about the new Cuba travel restrictions, it can be really confusing to figure out what it all truly means. So, if you’re scratching your head wondering whether or not you can travel to Cuba, you’re not alone. After all, with all of the convoluted language, how are we supposed to navigate all of this information to understand the ban’s actual implications for US travelers?
Well, we are here to help! Below we have summarized the most important aspects of the new travel ban and outlined all you need to know about traveling to Cuba. (Hint: You can still go!)
1. The new ban did end some of the most popular forms of U.S. travel to Cuba: cruise ships and people-to-people tourism.
For the past 60 years, U.S. travel to Cuba has been complicated at best, due to the communist regime taking power of the Cuban government at the end of the 1950s. But under the Obama administration, travel to Cuba suddenly became more accessible to the typical North American tourist. That administration allowed 12 categories of legal travel, including a popular “people-to-people” category. This type of travel emphasized educational and cultural activities that encouraged direct contact between tourists and the Cuban people. Due to its ambiguous language, it quickly became the easiest and most popular type of legal travel to Cuba for US citizens.
Thus, during this time period, numerous direct flights to Cuba opened up, and the island became an incredibly popular tourist destination and an increasingly important source of income for local Cubans.
However, in June of this year, the Trump Administration announced an end to the heavily used category of people-to-people travel in an attempt to cut off money to the nation’s communist government. This travel ban does indeed affect US tourists, for it prohibits the most popular categories of legal travel to Cuba: cruise ships and cultural and educational tours.
However, all hope is not lost! Travel to Cuba is still possible for US citizens; travelers just must abide by new regulations.
2. U.S. Citizens CAN (and should) still travel to Cuba.
Although the administration has cut off the most popular categories of tourism in its attempt to limit travel to the island, there are still several legal categories that justify travel to Cuba. While some of these categories only apply to certain segments of the population (i.e. journalistic activity, professional research, family visits, government business, etc.), there is one category that has quickly become the most widely used: support for the Cuban people.
Why has this type of travel become so popular, you ask? Well, because this is the only category that can be used by the average U.S. traveler who does not have familial, religious, or professional reasons to visit the island nation.
And this is great news for those of us hoping to travel to this beautiful country.
3. The “Support for the Cuban People” is a category of travel that directly supports the local population.
“Support for the Cuban people” is exactly what it sounds like: a means of supporting local Cubans by staying in local B&Bs and private homes instead of government-run hotels, patronizing Cuban-run restaurants and businesses, and having a “full schedule” of various activities that directly connect travelers with the local Cuban population. The new travel ban explicitly forbids Americans from spending money in government-owned establishments; therefore, travelers and tour operators must prove that they comply with these stipulations by providing their itineraries for the trip.
So, it’s still possible to travel to Cuba on your own, but it’s much easier to do with an established tour company that has already proven that its itinerary directly supports the Cuban population.
4. Acanela Expeditions is one example of a tour operator that runs its trips through the “support for the Cuban people” category.
Acanela Expeditions, along with various other travel and tour operators, has continued running trips to Cuba because its planned activities and accommodations comply with the regulations laid out in this special category of “supporting the local Cuban population.” In fact, this type of travel perfectly embodies Acanela’s values — supporting local establishments and empowering artisans and entrepreneurs to become self-sufficient. At Acanela, we design all of our trips — from Cuba to Europe to Southeast Asia — to support local populations throughout the world, and we are proud and excited to continue supporting the artisans and entrepreneurs of Cuba.
Our trips to Cuba are not only fun and exciting, but they are opportunities. They are opportunities to strengthen a population that has long suffered from isolation and that relies on tourist dollars to support themselves and their families’ livelihoods.
Help give back to local entrepreneurs and artisans in Cuba by joining us on our next Cuban adventure. Click here to sign up today!