Courier August/September Courier - Page 12

BUSINESS RELATING TO GOVERNMENT INSIGHTS ON U.S. LEGISLATIVE ISSUES AND INDUSTRY TOPICS A change in Cuba travel EVER SINCE THE 2016 presidential election, there have been rumblings in Washington and within the tour- ism industry about how the Trump administration might handle travel to Cuba, which was partially opened by the Obama administration. On June 16, President Trump announced an about- face for significant pieces of Obama’s deal with the island nation. The president stopped short of completely reversing the previous administration’s Cuba policies, but the announcement did include new travel and commercial restrictions. While both the Cuban embassy in Washington, D.C., and the American embassy in Havana will stay open for now, any visits to Cuba by U.S. citizens must be as part of people-to-people travel that is coordinated by tour com- panies approved by the U.S. federal gov- ernment. These educational trips must now be taken as part of a group, rather than by individuals. Cruises and flights between the two countries will also continue, although Southwest Airlines has announced the cancelation of two routes, and several other U.S. airlines have either stopped some flights or withdrawn from the market completely. A major tenet of the Trump admin- istration’s policy is the prohibition of any direct transactions with companies Operators, take note Michael Zuccato is the general manager of NTA- member Cuba Travel Services in Cypress, California. Asked for his take on the new travel policy, Zuccato provided three observations, noting that nothing is certain until official regu- lations are issued. • U.S. tour operators will need to supply a company representative on each departure. • Tour operators should ensure that each tour qualifies under the people-to-people category. “That includes a full-time sched- ule of educational activities that are intended to enhance contact with the Cuban people and that result in a meaningful interaction between the traveler and indi- viduals in Cuba.” Travel from the U.S. to Cuba must meet the requirements of “people-to-people” interaction between visitors and the people of Cuba, which can include school children. 10 August/September 2017 • Regarding tours that utilize prop- erties owned or operated by enti- ties related to the Cuban military: “If reservations have been made prior to the regulations being published, they will be permitted to continue as originally sched- uled. After the regulations are published, there appear to be prohibitions on certain hotels and services.” For more information, contact Zuccato at michael@cubatravel services.com or visit the website cubatravelservices.com.