With the announcement of new travel restrictions to Cuba, many Americans are left wondering:
Can I still go to Cuba?
Yes. Maybe, sorta.
Super helpful, right?
As I stated back in the winter, the time to go is NOW. I’m actually sad that I was so correct about it. I can only offer you suggestions based on what I know now. Please be aware: Your decision to go or not, in the end, is up to you.
Tourism Travel Was Always Banned
I think this is the biggest misunderstanding most people have. Even when we traveled to Cuba after Obama rolled-back restrictions, it was still against the law to travel strictly for tourism. As I stated, we had education activities planned out each day, ready to show any customs agent who may ask (but never needed to). We fell under the “people to people” educational trip.
“While tourism to Cuba is banned by federal law, the Obama administration had been allowing people to travel to Cuba and spend money as part of â€œpeople to peopleâ€ educational trips for visitors who plan a full itinerary of educational exchange activities, though there had been little to no enforcement of these requirements.” Politico
Once the new travel restrictions take effect, you will essentially need to avoid anything that is government run; this includes hotels, restaurants, stores, etc. Is it possible to avoid? Sure. Just makes it a bit tougher.
“While travel to Cuba wonâ€™t be banned completely, you wonâ€™t be able to support businesses directly controlled by the Cuban government, but rather only with small independent businesses. So you wonâ€™t be able to stay at big hotels, but you can stay in an Airbnb, casa particular, etc.” One Mile At A Time
We stayed at an amazing AirBnb, so we would have be “okay” under the new restrictions. But, it also looks like you will needÂ to keep your receipts from everything for five years and have heavier documentation of your activities.
“The Trump administration is stepping up requirements on those sorts of trips, requiring a full-time schedule of activities that â€œenhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban peopleâ€™s independence from Cuban authorities, and that the travel must result in a meaningful interaction between the travelerâ€ and Cubans, according to the draft. Travelers to Cuba will have to keep detailed records of all their financial transactions in the country for five years to make available to the Treasury Department if requested.”
When Will This Happen?
The Secretary of Treasury was instructed to provide new rules 90 days after the presidential policy directive was issued. Trump issued his statement on June 16th. So technically speaking, this should happen around mid-September.
As One Mile At a Time stated, the US will have a tough time enforcing what people do there. But, it’s the fear of repercussions that will likely lead to less Americans going to Cuba. And man, I hate fear-based reasons not to travel to a country.
Would I Still Go To Cuba?
Today? Yes. After mid-September, I honestly can’t give a definitive yes or no answer until we see the new restrictions. It breaks my heart to say that because Cuba is such an incredible country.
One of my friends reached out to ask me this very question and I’ll tell you the same thing I told her: get your documents in order, book educational tours and activities for each day, plan on staying at an AirBnb and keep an eye on the news.
What do you think of the new travel restrictions? Do you plan on going to Cuba?