Wednesday, June 8, 2016
NEW CUBA TRAVEL REGULATIONS
Some questions and answers about the new rules for Americans traveling to Cuba:
WHO CAN GO?
Any American can now travel to Cuba without the prior permission of the U.S. for the first time in a long while—so long as the visit falls under one of 12 approved categories, which include professional, religious and journalistic activities, educational activities, family visits, official business of the U.S. government, public performances, support for the Cuban people, humanitarian projects, research, exportation, importation, or transmission of information materials, and certain export transactions.
WHAT ARE THE RULES?
Americans can now travel alone after asserting it's an educational, "people-to-people" experience. The bottom line is for a people-to-people trip to be compliant — the activities or the trip in its entirety can’t be for tourism purposes. The intent is to not just do tourist activities but to meet Cuban people and to exchange, talk about life in the United States, learn about life in Cuba. White House officials suggested just about any interaction with Cubans would satisfy the requirement.
Under the updated policy, visitors will have to keep records for five years about what they did in Cuba, but won't have to submit them unless asked. Keeping records could include any receipts, plane tickets, hotel receipts, meal receipts and noting what type of activities they participated in.
ISN'T CUBA HARD TO GET TO?
Not anymore….The U.S. opened the door to restoring commercial air traffic. The first of up to 110 commercial flights a day are expected to start later this year. Eventually, many Americans may also come by boat. European cruise ships now make regular appearances in Havana harbor.
WHERE WILL I STAY?
One of the biggest difficulties is getting a hotel room. The hotels have been sold out for more than a year. It’s one of the major bottlenecks to Cuba right now. There’s a limited amount of hotels that the American traveler would find sufficient or satisfactory to stay in. It’s often easier to travel to Cuba if you go in a small group, because everything is taken care of. One recently added option is AirBnB. The U.S.-based company allows you to search private homes, known as "casas particulares," and pay through your credit card from the U.S.