President Trump signed an executive order on Friday, June 16, 2017, that rolls back much of the progress the Obama administration made to ease the failed economic embargo of Cuba and facilitate greater trade and travel to the island. Trump’s policy doesn’t ban travel to Cuba. But it puts significant new restrictions on US travelers, particularly those traveling on “people-to-people” educational exchanges, which includes all of Cross Cultural Journeys’ trips to Cuba. Here are our answers to some of the main questions travelers have about the new Cuba policy:
Can Americans still travel to Cuba legally?
YES. US citizens can still travel to Cuba legally. The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has 90 days to write new regulations implementing the president’s executive order. Until then, travelers can visit Cuba under the current rules. After the new rules go into effect, any travel plans that were initiated prior to Friday’s executive order will be allowed to proceed under the old rules. That means all of the upcoming trips listed on our Cuba page are still perfectly legal. The new restrictions will only apply to new travel plans made after the June 16 executive order for travel taking place after the new rules go into effect.
Can I still travel on my own, design my own itinerary, and book my own hotel?
NO. Once the new policy goes into effect, Americans will not be allowed to travel independently in Cuba. You will be required to travel in a group with a planned itinerary arranged by a sponsoring organization, and accompanied by a guide or company representative who ensures that your group maintains a full-time schedule of “people-to-people” activities. That said, we are happy to help you customize an itinerary for your private group that fits your interests and meets OFAC’s people-to-people requirements.
Where can I stay in Cuba?
The new policy bans Americans from spending money at any business owned by the Cuban military. Unfortunately, that means virtually all state-owned hotels will be off-limits — including famed establishments like the Hotel Nacional and Melia Cohiba. You will, however be able to stay at “casas particulares” — bed-and-breakfasts and small boutique hotels in private homes, like those offered by Airbnb and TripAdvisor. You should still be able to book your own lodging through Airbnb, though it’s unclear how that will square with the ban on individual travel and the requirement that Americans travel in organized groups. Cross Cultural Journeys works directly with the owners of many casas particulares in Cuba and can help arrange the perfect lodging for your needs and budget.
Is it still safe for me to travel to Cuba?
ABSOLUTELY. Cuba is one of the safest places in the world to travel. While our governments may not see eye to eye, the Cuban people have nothing against Americans. Quite the opposite. Cubans are extremely warm-hearted, welcoming, and curious to meet American travelers and learn about life across the water.
Are there still people-to-people group journeys that I can join this year or next?
YES. Cross Cultural Journeys has a roster of several upcoming group journeys that will be produced and executed under the old policy. You can find some of those itineraries here on our Cuba page.
Do you have other questions? Let us know in the comments below, or contact us today at email@example.com or call 800.353.2276.