On 4 June, the U.S. government announced a series of major new restrictions for U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba, which take effect on 5 June. The two main changes include:
1. An end to group people-to-people educational travel.
This category of travel was the most common way that U.S. citizens were able to visit Cuba under previous regulations. Trips booked before 5 June would be allowed to proceed.
2. An end to all travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens on passenger or recreational vessels (including cruise ships and yachts) as well as on private or corporate aircraft.
Commercial flights from the U.S. will continue, since they can support other permitted categories of travel. The new regulation will reportedly affect approximately 800,000 bookings currently scheduled or underway with cruise ship companies. Carnival Corporation announced on 5 June that effective immediately, it would no longer operate cruises to Cuba due to the new restriction. Similarly, other cruise ship companies will reportedly re-route ships that had been planning to visit Cuba.
Though tourism to Cuba has not been formally permitted, U.S. citizens have been visiting the country under different permitted categories, including the group people-to-people educational travel category that is now banned beginning on 5 June.
On 17 April, President Donald Trump and his administration announced they would be imposing additional restrictions for U.S. citizens traveling to Cuba for non-family travel, though had not specified the details of the new restrictions until 4 June. U.S. officials have said Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere by assisting regimes in Venezuela and Nicaragua and the new restrictions are an effort to stop providing funds to the Cuban government and military.
The new restrictions under the Trump administration follow previous easing of restrictions for travel to Cuba under former President Barack Obama’s administration, which had permitted educational tours, commercial air travel and cruises for U.S. citizens. The U.S. became the second-largest source of travelers to Cuba following the easing of restrictions, with a majority of U.S. travelers coming to the island via cruise ship.
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