Skift Take

This policy change will directly hurt tour operators that have been working to develop people-to-people vacations in recent years, adding uncertainty for consumers. U.S. travelers will now have fewer opportunities to interact one-on-one with the Cuban people.

Senior administration officials said in a media briefing Thursday afternoon that President Trump will ban people-to-people travel to Cuba for individual Americans.

People-to-people trips are one of 12 types that were approved for U.S. travelers as part of the Obama administration’s detente with Cuba. Tour operators had reported that this type of vacation was extremely popular with consumers, and it appears that group people-to-people trips will still be allowed.

“Individual people-to people travel has the highest risk of abuse,” said one official, but did not elaborate on examples of any alleged malfeasance. The Treasury Department will soon issue new regulations regarding the forms of travel that are acceptable.

These types of trips focused on connecting U.S. travelers with Cubans in their communities and homes, creating an educational environment where travelers can experience what everyday life is like for Cubans. The ostensible goal was to foster a mutual connection between citizens of the two countries in a structured and regulated fashion.

“Among other things, this general license authorizes, subject to conditions, persons subject to U.S. jurisdiction to engage in certain educational exchanges in Cuba either individually or under the auspices of an organization that is a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction and sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact,” read the Department of Treasury FAQ on travel to Cuba.

“Travelers utilizing this general license must ensure they maintain a full-time schedule of educational exchange activities intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people, support civil society in Cuba, or promote the Cuban people’s independence from Cuban authorities, and that will result in meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.”

While early, since President Trump is set to announce more particulars of the policy change tomorrow, Airbnb has come out in opposition to Trump’s elimination of people-to-people tourism.

“Travel from the U.S. to Cuba is an important way to encourage people-to-people diplomacy,” the company wrote in a statement. “While we are reviewing what this policy could mean for this type of travel, we appreciate that the policy appears to allow us to continue to support Airbnb hosts in Cuba who have welcomed travelers from around the world.”


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Tags: cuba, tourism, trump

Photo credit: President Trump will eliminate one of the more popular types of travel for individual U.S. citizens to Cuba. In this June 12, 2016 photo, Cuban-American Fontaine Capel, center, travels on a regular bus line in Havana, Cuba. Ramon Espinosa / Associated Press

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