Published: Wed, June 05, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

White House Announces New Travel Restrictions on Cuba, Including Cruise Ships

White House Announces New Travel Restrictions on Cuba, Including Cruise Ships

The Trump administration today announced new regulations to severely restrict the ability of us citizens to travel to Cuba, taking another major step in rolling back the Obama-era effort to open the door to better relations. "In addition, the United States will no longer permit visits to Cuba via passenger and recreational vessels, including cruise ships and yachts, and private and corporate aircraft".

Commercial airline flights appear to be unaffected by the new measures and travel for university groups, academic research, journalism and professional meetings will continue to be allowed.

The U.S. Treasury said in a statement that Washington is terminating "group people-to-people educational travel" to Cuba, citing the country's "destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere" and its support for "U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua".

"This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime", Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said, referring to the historic opening in relations during the Obama administration. 'These actions will help to keep USA dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services'.

The new restrictions will prohibit cruise ship passengers whose trips are arranged as organized tours.

According to the Cuban government, 257,500 USA citizens, not including those of Cuban origin, visited Cuba from January through March, with 55% arriving on cruise ships.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump had announced the new restrictions in April as part of its rollback of the U.S.

The U.S. Commerce Department told Reuters the ban would be effective from Wednesday, giving cruise lines no grace period to change destinations and creating confusion among cruise passengers. "The federal government should not be policing where Americans go on vacation", said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a nonprofit lobbying group.

A smaller number hire private tour guides or drivers of restored classic cars who wait outside Havana's cruise docks.

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"The Administration has advanced the President's Cuba policy by ending 'veiled tourism" to Cuba and imposing restrictions on vessels, ' Bolton said on Twitter.

Ross added that the administration "is acting to limit commercial activity that provides revenue for the Cuban regime". Norwegian Cruise Line likewise said it was monitoring the situation.

Cuban Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla said he rejects the new sanctions against Cuba, which he described as a "blockade". We are communicating with our guests about those changes.

Cruises have become more popular than flights for leisure travellers to Cuba - almost 30,000 more came by cruise ship than flights this year.

Cruises have become more popular than flights for leisure travelers to Cuba - almost 30,000 more came by cruise ship than flights this year.

In 2018, of the 4.75m global visitors to Cuba, approximately 800,000 people arrived by ships belonging to 17 lines, according to Cuba's Ministry of Tourism.

"He thinks we are just coming here as a tourist but you are learning so much".

It is not yet clear how exactly the restrictions will affect air travel to Cuba.

As of Wednesday, the USA will not allow group educational or cultural "people to people" trips - which made up the bulk of American tourists, as individual travel was still banned - unless they were booked prior to June 5.

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