Cruises companies and people to people travel have been hit hard by the Trump administration. Major new travel restrictions on visits to Cuba by Americans and a ban on educational and recreational travel take effect today.
The new travel restrictions are part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to erase Obama-era efforts to restore normal relations between Cuba and the United States.
John Bolton, the U.S. national security adviser said the new policy is intended to deny the Cuban government a vital source of income. It is also intended to create widespread hardship for the Cuban people.
“People-to-people” travel, as well as limiting exports of passenger vessels, recreational vessels, and private aircraft has been banned. This includes the ever-popular cruise ship travel from U.S. ports.
On the latest restrictions, James Williams, President of Engage Cuba said, “Restricting Americans’ freedom to travel is an attack on our fundamental right as citizens. The federal government should not be policing where Americans go on vacation. Our core freedoms should not be held hostage by politicians for naked partisanship.”
“Today’s news is especially damaging for the Cuban people, particularly the burgeoning Cuban private sector, who rely on American travelers to support their businesses and families. The Cuban people should not be used as political pawns. They are human beings. Continuing a 60-year failed embargo policy that punishes the Cuban people for the sins of their government is morally and strategically wrong. U.S. policy should be about empowering the Cuban people and advancing American interests,” he added.
Cuba Educational Travel (CET) said that the changes do not affect 11 other categories of legal travel to Cuba, including Academic Programs, Professional Meetings and Support for the Cuban People, which will allow many US travelers to continue visiting the island.
Collin Laverty of CET said, “There are still a number of ways to legally visit Cuba, commercial flights were left intact and any previously made reservations can go forward.”
Sue Ashdown, President of the consulting company, Icarus Cuba, said that as far as business travel is concerned, “These new restrictions are petty and unfortunate but it’s important to remember what they are and what they are not. They are specifically aimed at two of the most visible thorns in the side of the hardline Cuban Americans in Miami: cruise lines and the American tour operators heavily involved in group people to people travel. They are not aimed at business executives looking to position themselves in Cuba. Those people don’t come here on cruise ships or people to people tours and professional activities remain completely legal. We’re playing the long game here.”
Some American travel still permitted by the Trump administration changes: – family travel, official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; the work of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; certain authorized export transactions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; public performances; religious activities; and clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions.
It is a sad day in history for Cuban and American relations as the rights and freedoms of American citizens are ever so slowly unraveling.