Chris Kenning | Courier-Journal | March 17, 2016
Cuba has long been on travelers’ wish lists because of the longstanding U.S. ban on tourism.
But the latest changes by the Obama administration announced this week have made it easier than ever, turning the tourist ban – part of the embargo that can only be lifted by Congress – into what the Associated Press called “an unenforceable honor system.”
The U.S. allows people to travel to Cuba within one of 12 categories of authorized travel.
Now ordinary Americans can now take “people-to-people” educational trips to Cuba on their own instead of joining expensive group tours, The AP reported. That means any American can legally go to Cuba after filling out a form asserting that the trip is for educational purposes instead of tourism. They’ll have to keep records for five years about what they did in Cuba but won’t have to submit them unless asked.
While independent travel was previously allowed for specific reasons such as supporting religious organizations, the definition of educational travel is vague and could apply to many activities.
U.S. leisure travel to Cuba nearly doubled last year, to more than 160,000 visitors, and the changes could add another increase that will help fill seats on as many as 110 commercial flights a day starting later this year, the AP reported.
To get there now, travelers can buy a ticket on a charter flight or fly through a third country. While there is a reported shortage of hotels, bed and breakfasts can be rented and Airbnb has many listings.
For detailed information on U.S. rules, visit: http://1.usa.gov/1NddEro