Those with suppressed wanderlust for the cultured and colorful island of Cuba can finally accommodate that urge. After decades of limitations on U.S. travel to Cuba, restrictions have been lifted and a rise in traveler interest to the country has emerged.
Since the enactment of an embargo in the 1960s, the U.S. did not make it easy for Americans wanting to visit Cuba. They had to justify their trips to a government agency, apply for licenses, sign up with a company organizing “people to people” exchanges, or sidestep the law altogether by flying somewhere else first.
While ordinary tourism to Cuba remains banned, new rules implemented will make it easier for Americans to visit Cuba than it has been for decades. Americans are now able to go to Cuba without a specific license if the reason for the trip falls under any of the 12 relatively broad categories, which include family visits, journalistic activity, professional research or meetings, humanitarian projects and official business of the U.S. or foreign governments.
Once travelers arrive in Cuba, their experience will improve too. American credit and debit cards can be used on the island and the per diem spending rate has been eliminated. Americans are allowed to bring back up to $400 in goods for personal use from Cuba, including up to $100 in alcohol and/or tobacco products. Visitors also have more lodging options with AirBnb’s recent inclusion of Cuban homes to their site. Visitors can choose to stay at any of the listed 1,000+ Cuban homes to experience authentic Cuban hospitality at homes across the island.
Put simply, traveling to Cuba can be as easy as self-certifying to travel agents and airlines that their trip falls into one of the permitted travel categories.
These relaxed restrictions will be beneficial not only to travel, but also to the economy. New regulations allow America to send money to Cuba, which means businesses like American telecommunications providers, financial institutions and agricultural companies will have more incentive to do business in Cuba.
Some Americans have already pounced on this ease of Cuban travel. Studies reveal that January to May of this year showed a 36 percent increase in America to Cuba travel in comparison to 2014, with overall traveler interest expected to rise to an all-time high.
Is Sabre ready for American travel to Cuba?
We have been studying this new regulation and examining the improvements that we need to make to ensure that Sabre ConnectedSM agents can serve those travelers interested in visiting Cuba. A Sabre Red Workspace app is also in production, designed to be an efficient tool that will help travel agents book trips to Cuba to the extent permitted by the new U.S. regulations.
Before selling any services to Cuba, please familiarize yourself with the details of this new regulation. For travel from the U.S. to Cuba, the U.S. only permits U.S. persons to visit Cuba under 12 eligible travel categories. You can find more information about permissible travel from the U.S. to Cuba at the U.S. Department of the Treasury website.