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Move quickly on Cuba – courtesy of Donald Trump

June 22, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

If your clients have Australian or New Zealand passports – or pretty much any passports other than American – now more than ever could be the time for them to visit Cuba.

Just a few months ago, Cuba was opening up to the world like never before.

The Caribbean’s largest island, and one of Latin America’s most intriguing destinations, Cuba was preparing for a rush of visitors from the US. “Pent-up demand” is the phrase.

Some feared it might change Cuba forever, as cruise companies and airlines moved to take travellers to sample Cuba’s exciting mix of culture, history, food, music and dance. Not to mention cigars.

Havana

Now it’s all on hold. President Trump has announced policy changes that have made big corporations unsure of their future in Cuba and, at the other end of the scale, cracked down on FIT travel.

Trump’s new policy, outlined broadly in a speech on Friday, will stop the self-directed, individual travel that was allowed under President Obama’s policy.  Individual Americans will no longer be permitted to travel to Cuba under the so-called people-to-people exemption.

Trump’s policy still allows 12 categories of travel to Cuba, including exemptions for guided groups and visits to see family members, the Los Angeles Times reports.

But the anticipated big surge in travel to Cuba from from the US is clearly on hold. So now could be the last chance for Aussies and Kiwis to get in and see traditional Cuba before it changes forever.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) announced it was “disappointed to hear of President Trump’s plan to reverse key elements of the trading relationship between the US and Cuba, as outlined by President Obama in 2014 and by his visit last year”.

“The Cuban people are directly benefiting from increased business and leisure travel to Havana,” WTTC president and chief executive, David Scowsill, said.

“Travel brings income to the people who work in our industry. President Trump’s statements indicate that the Cuban people, rather than the government will be hit by this policy change.

“Airlines, cruise lines and hotel groups have all made significant investments and plans to create jobs and to grow the industry in Cuba, based on clear direction from the previous administration. Our sector needs consistency from governments and stability of policy. This is a clear and unwelcome reversal.

“There is latent demand from the US for people to visit Cuba to explore its history and culture, and it would be a retrograde step to revert once again to Americans traveling in groups.”

As Scowsill pointedly noted: “There is plenty more scope to grow the travel sector in Cuba. The country is not reliant on the US market for further tourism growth…”

Written by Peter Needham

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