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New regulations from the U.S. government on travel to Cuba and business arrangements will become effective on Thursday, limiting the ability of travelers to take certain flights and stay at particular hotels with ties to the Cuban government and military.
Travelers will no longer be authorized for individual or educational people-to-people travel without taking the trip with an approved U.S. organization, in a shift from the previous policy.
“OFAC is requiring that (1) all people-to-people nonacademic educational travel be conducted under the auspices of an organization that is subject to U.S. jurisdiction and that sponsors such exchanges to promote people-to-people contact, and (2) such travelers be accompanied by a person subject to U.S. jurisdiction who is a representative of the sponsoring organization,” states a new fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Treasury. “Individual people-to-people nonacademic educational travel will no longer be authorized as announced by the President.”
The U.S. Department of State has released a lengthy list of hotels across Cuba that U.S. travelers will now be barred from. Interestingly, the list does not include hotels like the Four Points by Sheraton in Havana, which were developed in conjunction with GAESA, which is owned by the Cuban military.
On the list, however, are several hotel brands operated by European hotel companies, like the Iberostar Laguna Azul in Varadero and Royalton Cayo Santa María in Cayos de Villa Clara. The new restrictions will likely hurt the overall hotel market in Cuba while making it more difficult for U.S. travelers to find places to stay.
The goal, according to officials, was to assess whether listing a hotel would have an adverse effect on U.S. interests in Cuba. Under that criteria, it seems, hotels developed and branded by U.S. companies will remain available to U.S. travelers.
The new regulations will not affect U.S. travelers who have already one element of a trip to Cuba prior to June 16, 2017. For educational travelers, this deadline applies for trips with elements booked before November 9.
“If you’ve already booked your flight, if you’ve already booked your hotel on the list, you can still take your trip,” said an official on a media call with reporters. “We’re not trying to impact travel that’s already been booked or arranged, we’re trying to make changes for the future.”
Read the fact sheet from the Treasury Department below.