USTOA: New Cuba Rules Counter to “Freedom of Travel”

Havana Cuba
Havana, Cuba

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. 

FREE Virtual Event

Pivoting Back to Travel: Phase 4

Are you prepared to guide your clients through the “new normal” of travel? Join us December 15, 2020 from 1pm-2:20pm EST for Pivoting Back to Travel: Phase 4. The upcoming installment of our FREE virtual series will feature presentations from the Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, and Seabourn on their most up-to-date travel procedures, health & safety protocols they’ve implemented to keep guests safe, activities that are open to visitors, what your clients need to know while on their trip and more! Visit www.pivotingbacktotravel to view the full agenda and register for your FREE pass.

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.

Visit and keep visiting for all your latest travel news and be sure to follow Travel Agent's Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260.

Related Stories

Trump Looks to Restrict “People-to-People” Program in Cuba

State Department Issues Cuba Travel Warning Over Sonic Attacks

Trump Looks to Reverse Obama’s Policies Toward Cuba

Senators Reintroduce Bill to Fully Lift Travel Restrictions to Cuba

Suggested Articles:

The COVID-19 testing program allows eligible customers to be exempt from quarantine after a negative test result on arrival in the Netherlands.

The current commission payment model and the lack of travel due to the global pandemic has wrought an existential crisis on travel agencies.

Citing new Italian government restrictions for holiday travel, MSC Cruises has cancelled several Mediterranean cruises but will restart in January.