Cuba: A Unique Experience
Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean, with a vibrant culture and amazing people, cities of unique character, and miles of unspoiled beaches with white powdery sands and crystalline turquoise-blue waters (Quick Facts About Cuba). Its recent history has kept Cuba off-limits to American businesses, preventing tourism development in the massive scale you would expect to find in such close proximity to the US.
That is part of it’s allure: Cuba seems to be in a time-warp, with its elegant architecture in disrepair, vintage American cars in very little traffic, billboards extolling the virtues of the Revolution instead of commercial advertising…
The recent changes in the approach to Cuba by the US government are expected by many to have a profound influence in the island. As relations between the two nations begin to normalize, the number of Americans visiting Cuba will multiply: cruise ship companies are looking to get a foothold in Havana, group travel will increase, and eventually individual tourists will be allowed to visit on holidays.
Cuba is about to change, if you want to have a unique experience this is the time to visit!
Americans Traveling to Cuba
The US government recently changed some of its restrictions for American citizens to travel to Cuba. The new regulations say travelers to Cuba no longer have to ask permission. Instead, the State Department published a list of 12 categories of travel permitted under a “general license.” This is to comply with the main restriction for American citizens for spending money in Cuba.
Any American traveling to Cuba will need a valid passport. It’s suggested that your passport be valid for at least six months after traveling on any of the programs offered to visit the island. Please be sure to check the expiration date of your passport, and if need be, renew your passport if it is nearing expiration.
Tourism for its own sake remains prohibited, but the policy makes it easier for Americans without family ties to travel to Cuba for a variety of reasons, including so-called “people-to-people” contacts, a category of permitted travel based on the idea that exchanges between people from the two countries will strengthen Cuban civil society. Americans can also head to the island for religious purposes, to attend conferences or even for public performances
or sporting events.
Americans who can travel to Cuba legally are Cuban Americans, politicians, journalists or anyone doing a research project regarding Cuba. Others including students, religious groups, and humanitarians can apply for a license from the U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).
Most American travelers will still have to certify in writing that they have a valid reason to travel to Cuba under existing law and retain records proving that they fell under an exemption for five years, according to the Treasury Department.