In recent news, a historic deal has been struck between Raul Castro and Barack Obama that is to set in motion a slew of initiatives that will look to restore and improve the diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba. The question remains, what does this mean for the average American traveler who wants to visit Cuba?
In re-establishing ties with Cuba, there are many developments that need to happen first. The embargo that was designated to Cuba in October, 1960 has not been lifted, and the improvement of relations does not mean that the average American traveller can hop on a plane to Cuba. Cuba has been designated as a “state sponsor of terrorism” since 1982, and this must be lifted first. In addition to this, the United States Embassy will need to be restored and there will need to be congressional approval in order for a complete lift of the embargo.
What has changed and how does this affect tourism and travel to Cuba?
You cannot visit as a tourist. However, there are 12 categories of people who can travel to Cuba with what is known as a general or specific license. These people are:
* Visiting Immediate Family,
* U.S. and Foreign/Intergovernmental Organizations for business,
* Professional Research/Meetings,
* Activities tied with education,
* Activities tied with religion,
* Support for Cuban People,
* Humanitarian Projects,
* Private Foundations/Educational Institutes,
* The transmission of informational materials (imported or exported),
* Certain Export Transactions that are legally sanctioned by Cuba and the United States.1
1 Please view for an official statement of these categories at: http://www.cubapuentes.com/CubaPuente/Who_Can_Travel_to_Cuba.html
If you are an American citizen that has a licence for one of the above categories, then you are able to legally travel to Cuba. If you do not fall under any of these categories, then you will not be allowed to legally travel to Cuba, or at least not yet until previous restrictions of the embargo are lifted. Please note that for those who do travel to Cuba, are only allowed to bring back $400 worth of goods, with a maximum of $100 being on any alcohol and tobacco substances.
On the other side of things, of the embargo is completely lifted, this will allow Americans to travel to Cuba without needing a specific license. If the embargo is lifted, not only will businesses be able to set up shop, but tourists can travel and vacation in Cuba. If this happens, there will be a boom in travel to the island, and a whole lot of happy Americans who have been waiting to travel there since 1960.
What does this mean for businesses?
With the extensive changes happening, certain American industries such as airfare and tourism, construction and technology will benefit greatly from any authorized exports traveling into Cuba. In addition to this, if the United States authorizes goods and services to be exported to Cuba, then the providers of these goods and services will be able to set up infrastructure in order to provide these services.
As great as this would be for American chains, exports and imports, no one will be setting up shop until the embargo is lifted. However, by making these extensive changes over the coming months, having the embargo lifted by congressional approval may become more of a realty if all goes well with the improved relations.