Tourism Agencies Look Forward to Relaxed Cuba Travel Rules

We might be much closer to basking in the Cuban sun in 2015. NY1’s Valarie D’Elia filed this report.

President Obama’s recent announcement about normalizing relations with Cuba after 55 years is turning the tide for Americans wanting to visit the island nation.

“I think it is phenomenal, it’s a sea change,” says John McAuliff of Fund for Reconciliation & Development

“It’s going to become a lot easier for Americans to travel to Cuba,” says Tom Popper of Insight Cuba.

He is one of the U.S.-based tour providers that up until now, has been operating under a special license to lead carefully crafted people-to-people trips.

“The response we have gotten to the news announcement has been unbelievable,” says Popper.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control will soon clarify just how the new travel rules will be implemented; rules that are expected to give a much-easier-to-obtain general license to all the current categories of travel.

“A general license means you don’t have to apply for it, you don’t have to report about it, with the exception that you can’t just go hang out at the beach, that is clearly tourism and clearly doesn’t provide an engagement with the Cuban people,” says McAuliff.

It is very possible that the new framework will offer more freedom for everyday Americans to enjoy independent trips.

“Even individual travel agents, but certainly individual consumers, can design their own programs, but substantively, the purpose of their trip has to be to learn about Cuba, to try and engage with the Cuban people,” says McAuliff.

The status of American travel to Cuba will be discussed during a forum at the upcoming New York Times Travel Show at the Javits Center.

NY1 News, January 2, 2015

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