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Confusion For Would-Be Cuba Travelers

The Hotel Nacional de Cuba
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
The Hotel Nacional de Cuba

Travelers are reacting strongly to the Trump administration’s recent restrictions on trips to Cuba. Many vacationers that had already booked cruises are looking for answers as to why this change was so sudden.

Some cruise lines are offering refunds or updating itineraries for already booked vacations.

“So far we have only had one person cancel their cruise, but he is actually taking another one,” said Maria Thomas, owner/CEO of Lakeland–based Dreamward Travel.

Thomas said many of her customers fear that they have missed their chance to go to the island country. While the restrictions make it more difficult, it is not impossible. However, it will take some work – the U.S. Department of Treasury says visits must fall under one of the following categories:

  • Visiting a family member
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and professional meetings
  • Educational opportunities
  • Religious activities
  • Athletic competitions
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Official business of the U.S. government
  • Humanitarian projects

“We will still offer packages to Cuba that include flights as long as they fall within the guidelines of the people allowed and permitted to go,” said Thomas.
Others fear that without the financial impact of U.S. tourism, some Cubans will lose lucrative tourism-related jobs.  Thomas said that may not be the case.

“I think it will greatly affect the Cuban nationals,” said Thomas. ”The people of Cuba were definitely benefitting from the American tourism, but on the other hand, we have to keep in mind the U.S. is the only one leaving.”

Jeffrey Smith is a WUSF/USF Zimmerman School digital news intern for summer 2019.