The American government announced this week a lessening in procedures for those Americans looking to travel to Cuba.
In fact, this can be categorized as a significant loosening of rules for those hoping to visit Cuba under 12 categories related to things like work, cultural, sports, educational, religious and journalistic purposes.
The big change is that rather than have the government be an intermediary in this process (which caused delays and uncertainty) now travel agencies and airlines will be trusted to sell customers tickets under a general license, and not be forced to have each passenger apply to the government on a case-by-case basis. Essentially the classification of a traveler to Cuba remains the same but the process for which to get your travel documents is much easier.
A senior U.S. Government official noted that passengers could be ‘audited’ up to 5 years later and that they must keep their travel documents to keep documents showing that they were travelling under one of the authorized categories.
So while the relations have improved, those looking to hop on a flight to Havana will have to wait a little while longer. And must keep accurate records.
There are many positives that come out of the changes however – not all of which impact travelers.
Michael Brush from MarketWatch has an in depth analysis of how to profit from better US-Cuba relationships and notes many ways that it will help the traveler. Things like food (Cuba ships in food from the US but that will now be easier, which will trickle down to the traveler) and banking (The US government wants banks to be able to set up corresponding banks in Cuba for Americans in Cuba) will help the US Government and when it comes to things like banking the traveler will benefit from the easier access.
Although Cuba and the United States have had a thawing in their relationship over the last years, for decades it was a chilly as it gets. Americans were not allowed to travel to Cuba and relationships between the two countries have not been good.
One would assume that continued ‘warmer’ relationships between the two countries will continue and those looking to travel to Cuba will benefit the most. Cuba has a warm climate, quality resorts and is very economical. But at this point, no one knows when that will be.