New restrictions for Cuba
On Friday, President Donald Trump will unveil his plan to walk back several facets of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy when it comes to the nation of Cuba.
According to the Presidential Memorandum that will be announced on Friday—but has already been leaked to Reuters, among other news outlets—the U.S. will not be entirely cutting itself off from Cuba once again, but will be tightening restrictions in keeping with campaign promises Trump made both to voters and to power brokers in the Republican party.
In 2014, President Obama opened up tentative relations with the island of Cuba in hopes of thawing out old and outdated Cold War-era animosities between the two countries. While actual diplomatic talks may not have meant much changed between the two nations, open borders meant travel to Cuba was easier than ever before.
Now, the travel community is left wondering what is next.
Trump will announce his plan as a human rights act, standing up to and refusing to support a communist regime that controls much of the economy and leaves only pennies on the dollar for its citizens to scrape by.
He will announce that tourism to Cuba is still banned and that enforcement of travel restrictions (so-called person-to-person travel) will not only still be in effect but will be tightened as well.
Earlier this week, Patrick Clarke covered the coming announcement with news that the majority of Americans actually support more open travel to Cuba—including 44 percent of Trump voters. Those in favor of an open Cuba and those in the travel industry can take some solace that several specific Obama-era policies will remain in effect, such as direct, commercial flights between the two countries.
Although individual P2P travel will likely end according to the White House, group experiences should not be effected.
In a statement to TravelPulse, Intrepid Travel laid out what this shift in policy will mean to tour operators in Cuba:
“Early reports have confirmed that on Friday, June 16, 2017 President Trump will officially announce a significant uptick in enforcement in U.S. travel to Cuba. For tour operators, that means stricter audits by the government on legal people-to-people travel in Cuba, which requires travelers to legitimately fall into one of the 12 exemption categories.”
Engage Cuba, an impact group dedicated to keeping Cuba borders open has pointed out that the impact of completely closing off Cuba travel could mean an impact of 12,000 jobs and 6.6 billion dollars to American businesses.