U.S. Announces Big Changes in Cuba Travel Restrictions

havanaThe United States government has announced a new set of regulations, which take effect Friday, that ease restrictions on travel to Cuba, the New York Times reports. 

With the new regulations, Americans can visit Cuba without obtaining a special license from the government for 12 reasons:

1. Family visits
2. Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
3. Journalistic activity
4. Professional research and professional meetings
5. Educational activities
6. Religious activities
7. Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
8. Support for the Cuban people
9. Humanitarian projects
10. Activities of private foundations, research, or educational institutions
11. Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
12. Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines 

For agencies, travel agents and airlines will now be able to sell Cuba travel without a specific government license. Additionally, travelers will be able to use credit cards and spend money in Cuba, and can bring back up to $400 in souvenirs (including $100 in alcohol or tobacco). 

The move follows the decision late last year to restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana. That decision reversed a 50-year-old policy of isolation and embargo, and came following months of secret talks hosted by Canada and encouraged by Pope Francis

Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further updates on this developing story.