Terry Dale, president and CEO of the United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA), released a statement Friday morning calling President Donald Trump’s recent Cuba regulations proposal “counter to USTOA’s core belief in freedom of travel for Americans.”
"Since its inception more than 40 years ago, the United States Tour Operators Association has supported an open borders policy and will continue to advocate for the growth of the travel and tourism industry inside and outside of the United States," said Dale.
Trump announced a plan Wednesday to restrict an outreach program from allowing non-sponsored groups to visit Cuba for the purpose of culture and education.
For those who aren't terribly familiar with the program, the “People-to-People” initiative requires Americans to take part in various cultural experiences in Cuba, essentially, as the name implies, putting them in direct contact with the people of Cuba with hopes of learning about the way of life in the country.
It was implemented by President Clinton in 1999 and suspended by President Bush in 2004 before President Obama resurrected the program.
Under Trump’s new proposal, the program will now be permitted only for sponsored groups in the United States, and with the participation of representatives from those groups, according to CNN.
"The industry will adjust how it does business under the new rules, and we will continue to clarify and comply," said Dale. "Moving forward, Americans can continue to travel to Cuba through a licensed U.S. tour operator."
Individuals traveling under the “People-to-People" outreach program will no longer be able to visit the country, except where travel arrangements have already been made, or in cases where these individuals are accompanied by permitted, U.S.-based sponsors, according to CNN.