Citing companies soliciting funds from travelers who are interested in going to Cuba, Ya’lla Tours USA is warning all agents to be very careful about what they are doing and which tour operator they are working with when it comes to Cuba travel.
Some tour operators have been soliciting travelers in the United States and have suggested that they are licensed to provide travel services to Cuba. Although there has been some easing of restrictions, there are still strict U.S. government rules in place. Not every tour operator is legally allowed to provide travel services to U.S. persons, who are licensed to travel to Cuba.
“While there may come a day when there is unrestricted and free travel to Cuba, that day is not now. Nor does it seem like it will be anytime in the near future,” said Ronen Paldi, President of Ya’lla Tours USA, in a written release. “Travel agencies and travelers need to be very careful if they are making plans for travel to Cuba. Some operators out there seem to be coming close to violating strict regulations, and travelers will end up paying the price.”
Any unlicensed agent or tour operator that promotes Cuba travel services, makes travel arrangements, or collects funds for travel to Cuba from Americans is in violation of Federal law and is subject to civil and/or criminal penalties.
A trip there needs to be set up through an operator who’s been approved through either the People to People ecucation program or an operator who's been approved to conduct religious ecuation tours. 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.
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Insight Cuba got the tour operator ball rolling when it announced in late June that it was reauthorized by the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to send Americans to Cuba.
Abercrombie & Kent will be offering trips through the People to People program, which was implemented by President Clinton in 1999 and suspended by President Bush in 2004 before President Obama resurrected the program this January.