Legal Travel to Cuba from the US

One hot topic among travelers these days is legal travel to Cuba from the US. While in the past many Americans have found it difficult, if not impossible, to travel to Cuba legally (often coming in via Mexico or elsewhere in the Caribbean), there have been some new updates on US Cuba relations. Many Americans, both those of Cuban descent and those simply interested in visiting the island, have been anxiously waiting for an update on the US embargo in Cuba. These days, it seems as if this change is finally here.

Cuba holds a unique place in US foreign policy. It was long been regarded as the one country that the US forbids its citizens from visiting, though this is technically not true. It is not visiting that is forbidden, but rather spending money in Cuba, and it has long been legal to travel there under a few exceptions, such as if you’re a politician, a Cuban-American, or a journalist, or as part of a group having received permission from the state department to go. However, many travelers have still wondered is it legal for Americans to travel to Cuba, and this de facto travel ban might finally be lifted. President Obama has taken steps towards allowing more Americans to legally visit Communist-led Cuba. In the past, travelers who were interested in legal travel to Cuba from the US ran into many problems. This forced them to enter the country through a third-party destination or simply restrained them from visiting.

The US Embargo on Cuba that was in place for 50 years is finally showing signs of shattering. If the gate is finally opened to Americans, they will get to experience the incredible Cuban beaches, seafood, and nightlifethat Cuba is known for widely to tourists of other countries. While President Obama is working towards improving US Cuba relations, there are some objections in Capitol Hill. Those politicians that object to the Communist-led government fear that legal travel to Cuba from the US will do one thing: put more money in the pocket of a dictator. For politicians, particularly those of Cuba descent that want democracy on the island, this is a stumbling block for legal travel to the country, but the modified rules allowing “purposeful travel” are expected to encourage thousands more people to visit.

While the question is it legal to go to Cuba will soon have a simpler answer than in the past, that doesn’t mean all travelers will want to book the next flight. Travelers are now welcome to join tour companies that lead tours, and the idea behind these tours is the ability to expose Americans to the jazz, art, museums, and history of the country. For some travelers who are more interested in salsa dancing, local cocktails, and leisurely days on the beach, these tours might not be the best match, but travel options are likely to grow over the next few years.

The doors might be completely open between Cuba and the US, but many people who have been following this topic over the last decades think that significant progress has been made. While US officials have vowed to ‘weed out frivolous trips’ and only encourage those with an educational purpose, that leaves many American travelers out of the loop. Organized 20-day tours are aimed more at wealthy Americans who can afford to spend thousands of dollars on a single trip. Budget travelers looking to stay in a casa particular and hit the beach might have to wait another few years for their dream Cuban trip to become a reality. Legal travel to Cuba from the US has been a hot topic in Washington for the last several decades, and it shows no sign of cooling off any time soon.



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