It's worth noting that travel to Cuba is already booming; In 2012 and 2013, more than 90,000 Americans legally visited Cuba, according to the New York Times — and there's a good chance many more have visited illegally.
But it's complicated to travel there: Travelers currently need special visas or are required to travel with set tour groups, and there are no direct commercial flights between the US and Cuba.
All of that will likely change soon.
Senior Obama administration officials announced in a press conference call with reporters on Wednesday plans to lift many of its existing travel restrictions. While all of the details have not yet been made clear, an official said the change will include a "number of steps to significantly increase travel, commerce, and the flow of information to and from Cuba." Officials also noted that the eased travel restrictions would allow more Americans who qualify under the current license program to visit Cuba.
While it's not technically illegal for US citizens to travel to Cuba, most are prohibited from spending any money there. These new measures would allow visitors to be able to purchase "$400 of general goods and up to $100 of alcohol and tobacco products that can include cigars" while in Cuba.
We're still waiting for more information on the ease of these travel restrictions, but it's clear that more Americans will be traveling to Cuba very soon.
- General licenses will be made available for all authorized travelers in the following existing categories: (1) family visits; (2) official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations; (3) journalistic activity; (4) professional research and professional meetings; (5) educational activities; (6) religious activities; (7) public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; (8) support for the Cuban people; (9) humanitarian projects; (10) activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; (11) exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and (12) certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.
- Travelers in the 12 categories of travel to Cuba authorized by law will be able to make arrangements through any service provider that complies with the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations governing travel services to Cuba, and general licenses will authorize provision of such services.
- The policy changes make it easier for Americans to provide business training for private Cuban businesses and small farmers and provide other support for the growth of Cuba’s nascent private sector. Additional options for promoting the growth of entrepreneurship and the private sector in Cuba will be explored.