Mike McCormick, executive director, Global Business Travel Association, prepared the following blog to educate businesses on travel to Cuba.
By Mike McCormick, Executive Director, GBTA
Earlier this month, the Obama Administration announced plans to ease restrictions on a 50-year-old embargo with Cuba. The following are background materials and links to information to help you better understand these recent developments and the potential impact to your company.
On January 15, 2015 the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and U.S Department of Treasury released Fact Sheets and FAQs on the new rules for companies and travelers seeking to travel to Cuba:
Department of Commerce Secretary Pritzker released the following statement:
“The regulations published today are an important first step toward increased engagement that will expand our economic relationship and strengthen our people to people connections with Cuba,” said Secretary Pritzker. “Today’s actions, which are being taken in coordination with the U.S. Department of the Treasury, give legal effect to the historic policy changes that President Obama announced on December 17. Specifically, our regulations will change export policy and authorize the flow of certain goods and services to Cuba without a license, to spur private sector activity and encourage entrepreneurship in Cuba. These are smart changes in America’s outdated policy that will help the Cuban people realize an improved standard of living, greater economic independence, and increased prosperity.”
The Obama administration, following through on its declaration of warming ties with Cuba, has eased travel restrictions and opened a wide range of new export opportunities with the communist island.
Impact on Business and Leisure Travel: Most U.S. travelers still will be required to go on supervised group trips, but now virtually any U.S. company or organization can offer such trips without the paperwork and inspections that discouraged past expansion of travel to Cuba. Some tour operators, already seeing unprecedented interest in legal travel to Cuba, expect some tourists to simply ignore the restrictions. American companies also now will be permitted to export telephones, computers and Internet technology, and to send supplies to private Cuban firms. However, Cuban authorities have said nothing about the restrictions they might impose on U.S. products entering a country that has long frustrated foreign investors with bureaucratic obstacles and tapped-out infrastructure.
Airlines Interested: Commercial flights between the two nations are still some time away. Before airlines offer routine service from one country to another, the two governments must agree on the terms in a treaty. United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways have all expressed an interest in flying to the island nation.
GBTA will continue to monitor and advise the membership on this issue. Don’t hesitate to contact GBTA with any questions or thoughts.