For a small window of time, American tourists had the sweet opportunity to legally visit their Caribbean neighbor Cuba and freely enjoy the rich cultural heritage it has to offer. Well, not anymore because guess what – Trump is gonna trump.
On Friday, June 16, President Trump announced his rollback on Obama’s 2016 agreement with Cuba thus executing on his promise to “reverse” the former president’s free trade and tourism policy initiatives. Well, mildly executing.
“Effective immediately, I am canceling the last administration’s completely one-sided deal with Cuba.”
In reality, Trump’s new restrictions, while limiting, will not completely banish American travel and trade with Cuba. Realizing the opportunity, some companies are already cashing in on the wave of concerned ‘last minute’ tourists wanting to take a peek at the ‘forbidden’ island.
People-to-people vs. people-to-beer
Under Obama, American travelers were allowed to visit Cuba for one of the 12 government authorized purposes, which included family visits, journalistic and religious activities, athletic competitions, etc.
The system was put in place to make sure the country doesn’t get flooded with lazy ass tourists skulking in their all-inclusive hotels and not familiarizing themselves with the Cuban culture. A great idea but not without loopholes.
One of the 12 categories, and surely the most popular one, was people-to-people – a super vague classification that allowed pretty much anyone to slip in unnoticed and do whatever they please during their stay. Well, Trump is now banning it.
Under the new rules, people-to-people and educational travel categories will no longer be available, or at least not available for individuals.
Traveling to Cuba will continue to be possible but only as a part of a group trip with an officially licensed tour operator such as Insight Cuba, Intrepid Travel or – possibly the most fun of all – M.I.A. Beer Company in partnership with Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) who are organizing a literal booze cruise to the island.
Scheduled to leave the Miami shore on March 26, 2018, the cruise promises “a wide range of craft beer and beer-centric events.” But besides all the boozy fun, Eddie Leon, the co-owner of M.I.A. Brewing, says he wants to foster the cultural and educational aspects of tourism to Cuba:
“Obviously, there’s a cultural connection to see Cuban beer. Our group will be learning about Cuban’s rich brewing and spirits industry in Old Havana.
We will be touring breweries and meeting brewers. We will not be sunbathing on the beaches or staying at government-owned hotels. It will be a one-of-a-kind learning experience.”
The latter is exactly why Trump’s new restrictions are being criticized so much. As Washington Post aptly points out, by forbidding individual people-to-people and educational travel to Cuba, the rules “will herd Americans back toward the kind of prepackaged, predictable group tourism that the Cuban government actually prefers.”
If you want to learn more about M.I.A. Brewing’s beer cruise to Cuba, visit the company’s website.
Justina Bakutyte, konbini
June 22, 2017