In November, the Trump administration tightened travel and commercial ties to Cuba, part of its effort to roll back former President Barack Obama’s historic opening with Havana. The new rules came nearly five months after President Trump announced he would reverse Obama-era policies that loosened the decades-long trade embargo against the communist island.
The new restrictions impact primarily individual travelers. Yes, you can still hire a tour company and join a guided tour that ensures you meet all the requirements and fulfill the full time schedule of activities they require. But what about individual travelers, hostelers, or adventurous people who want to support the humanitarian vision for Cuba, while still traveling in their own independent way? Under new Treasury Department rules, individual “people-to-people” trips — which have enabled individual American travelers to visit Cuba for educational purposes on their own as opposed to with a tour group — have been eliminated. This elimination has had obvious repercussions for companies like Airbnb which famously cater to individual travelers.
But, Instant World Booking has now entered the Cuban market, and is offering a fresh alternative to Airbnb and other services for accommodation at unique and individual Cuban small hotels and casa particulares. The lawmakers have assured that individual travelers are still able to visit the island if it’s in support of the Cuban people. While little-known to American travelers today, this assurance is actually written into the law.
Here’s how you, as an individual traveler, may still lawfully visit Cuba today. One of the approved reasons for traveling to Cuba is called “Support for the Cuban people”. Under this travel category, you engage in activities that result in meaningful interaction with individuals in Cuba. This now includes such activities as renting a room in a private Cuban residence (casa particular), eating at privately owned Cuban restaurants (paladares), and shopping at privately owned stores run by self-employed Cubans (cuentapropistas). So, renting one of the many private accommodations now available from Instant World Booking can help facilitate the trip to Cuba you are hoping to make. But remember, in order to meet the requirement for a full-time schedule, you must also engage in additional authorized Support for the Cuban People activities. We suggest you check out the actual requirements at one of these two official sources:
Better yet, do you need to get some sort of license or authorization from the US government? No. As an American traveler to Cuba, you can start planning your trip today. It’s called a general license, and as long as you conform to the activities and requirements outlined in the above sources, your trip is permitted. But, we suggest you read the rules thoroughly. You’ll need to keep some records regarding your schedule and trip. Remember, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring your travel is in compliance with the regulations.
To celebrate our commitment to travel in Cuba, we have introduced a new website www.cubainstantbooking.com, featuring a vast set of options for accommodation in Cuba. This site joins the over 100+ other sites in our proprietary network of hotels, hostels, and apartments worldwide. In addition, we are beginning to work with both US and Cuban groups to facilitate accommodation of official travel groups within our network of private lodgings in Cuba.
We hope you are inspired by this article, and will perhaps consider a trip to Cuba in the near future. Remember that your presence can help support civil society in Cuba, and promote the Cuban people’s independence. Please feel free to contact Instant World Booking with any questions you may have.