USA_Cuba_FlagThe thaw in US-Cuba political and commercial relations have continued, but is there US tourism in Cuba?

We shared in an earlier post details on the commercial interests included in President Obama’s to Cuba in March (2016). The following Company Executives accompanied the President to Cuba:

Brian Chesky, President and Founder of Airbnb, one of the first companies to take advantage of the loosened travel restrictions to Cuba.

Arne Sorenson, President & CEO of Marriott and Ken Siegel, General Counsel of Starwood (the two companies merged in July, 2016) which have a signed agreement to open three hotels in Cuba.

Daniel Schulman, CEO of PayPal, which operates Xoom, a global money transfer service that expects to be in Cuba by the end of 2016.

Previously, in February (2016) Anthony Foxx, U.S. Transportation Secretary had visited Cuba where he signed an arrangement to re-establish scheduled direct air travel between the United States and Cuba.

We saw the results on August 31 (2016) with the first US-Cuba direct commercial flight in over 50 years. Since then, Silver Airways and American Airlines have followed suit. Eventually, six airlines will operate 155 US-Cuba roundtrip direct flights weekly between five US cities and nine Cuban cities.

So, is there US tourism in Cuba? Not yet!

A confusing array of do’s and don’ts persists even as the US-Cuba commercial thaw progresses. This confusion exists because President Obama is chipping away at the edges of the primary restriction to doing business in Cuba – the law establishing and enforcing the US embargo against Cuba.

There are still only twelve (12) permissible categories of US travelers to Cuba. And they cannot engage in tourist activities. There are complex rules that explain what that means.

So the flights and hotels will continue to provide service primarily for these pre-authorized categories of travelers, notably persons with family in Cuba or participating on people-to-people exchanges, persons able to do business in Cuba, journalists.

While persons interested in doing business in Cuba should be encouraged as the US-Cuba commercial thaw progresses, they should proceed cautiously and with legal advice. Contact us to learn more about doing business in Cuba.