Published: Sun, June 09, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

United States travel restrictions hit Cuba's private sector

United States travel restrictions hit Cuba's private sector

Until just a few days ago Havana's Old Town was swarming with US visitors, mainly from cruise ships, who toured the zone to learn about its history, culture and heritage.

With People to People travel eliminated, many agencies are turning to the Support for the Cuban People category, which requires a full-time schedule of activities related to local businesses and culture.

The Trump administration imposed new restrictions Tuesday on travel to Cuba, banning USA -flagged cruise ships from docking in the country and eliminating one of the most widely-used ways for Americans to visit the island nation. The restrictions effectively made it illegal to cruise from the U.S.to Cuba, according to the industry group.

Passengers booked to depart Wednesday showed up at Florida ports, only to learn that they weren't going to Cuba. Some found out while walking around Havana during the abbreviated port call. It was opened in 2011 as part of the Caribbean nation's small market-oriented reforms to open up the private sector. If you're booked on an upcoming cruise to Cuba, check with your cruise line immediately to see what compensation they're now offering.

Weeks later, the ban was lifted on USA commercial ship visits, opening the door for the Caribbean cruise ship industry to expand stops in Cuba.

The thaw in ties, initiated in 2015 by Obama and former Cuban leader Raul Castro, led to a substantial increase in US visitors and the opening of thousands of small startup businesses like inns, restaurants, cafeterias, and craft shops.

The extremely abbreviated timeframe to modify our itineraries to be in compliance with the new travel restrictions to Cuba has exacerbated the impact to the company's earnings estimates, Norwegian said, in a statement.

It's reported that commercial flights from the United States will continue to be permitted as they "broadly support family travel and other lawful forms of travel".

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"What we don't see in a situation like this is the tremendous loss of income for the Cubans and for Norwegian".

"The people there were so appreciative of our money, in our tourism, and it's definitely really going to hurt them", said Michael Andrews.

Cruise travel from the U.S.to Cuba began in May 2016 and then became the most popular form of US leisure travel to the island.

Until Tuesday, one such license was group People to People education travel.

Cruise ships were also one of the primary ways that American citizens could avoid running afoul of federal regulations when they traveled to Cuba.

"I think it will greatly affect the Cuban nationals", said Thomas.

"The U.S.is obviously looking to economically strangle the Cuban government but also the people". In response, cruise lines changed itineraries for ships already at sea.

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