In Miami Friday, President Donald Trump announced sweeping changes to America’s policies toward Cuba. Those changes will impact how you visit the Caribbean country.
“It’s so close, yet it has been so far from our reach,” David Hall explained the motivations behind his recent trip to Cuba.
The Delray Beach man took advantage after President Barack Obama loosened travel restrictions for individuals between the United States and Cuba.
“I had a feeling something might be up, so let's get on board and let's get over to Cuba as soon as was we can,” he said.
Now President Trump is changing the way Americans travel to the communist nation saying tourism funds the oppressive government.
“The reason being that all the hotels are owned by the military,” explained Jeff Dash, of Dash Travel in Delray Beach.
The travel agent said many travelers like Hall, who also works at the agency, go to Cuba under "people to people" exchanges. But there's no way to guarantee an individual follows the guidelines for that category. So now visitors will only be allowed to visit the island nation as part of a group tour or cruise.
“What the Trump administration has decided to do is not allow people to go and self-certify. They actually have to go and interact with the people because the whole reason for people going under those guidelines was to go and interact with the Cuban people and culture,” Dash explained.
The U.S. Department of Treasury issued a statement Friday that said if you've already booked a trip as an individual on a "people-to-people" basis, you will likely be allowed to visit even after President Trump’s new regulations kick in.
Dash said he doesn’t expect the new regulations to hurt his business. He deals mostly with group and cruise packages as it is, and these regulations won’t change those guidelines.
World Travel Holdings, which is the parent company of Dream Vacations, released the following statement about Friday’s announcement.
“Cuba has proven to be a popular destination among our customers so we are pleased to learn that Americans will continue to be able to experience Cuba by cruise ship and through authorized people-to-people group travel. The cruise industry is well positioned for this change in policy and we are confident that our customers will continue to find value in their cultural experiences and social interactions with the Cuban people.”