TripAdvisor, one the world’s largest travel sites, has announced that it is among the first U.S. travel companies to receive a license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to provide and sell travel-related services to travelers to Cuba.
The license permits TripAdvisor to promote educational and cultural engagement between travelers and the Cuban people. TripAdvisor’s license also eases many of the prior commercial restrictions regarding travel to the island nation.
Excluding Cuban-Americans, only about 160,000 people of U.S. jurisdiction (Americans) traveled to Cuba last year. By comparison, about 20 million Americans traveled to Mexico in the same period.
“TripAdvisor believes that travel has the power to bring people together, facilitates understanding and appreciation of new cultures, and makes us a more enlightened people. Cuba continues to be one of the only countries in the world where the United States imposes significant travel restrictions. We applaud President Obama’s policies to ease these restrictions and build relations with our island neighbor just 90 miles south of Florida,” said Stephen Kaufer, president and CEO, TripAdvisor. “TripAdvisor looks forward to helping travelers all over the world discover Cuba’s vibrant history, people and culture as we begin the important work to make these trips possible.”
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Effective immediately under the new license, TripAdvisor is permitted to facilitate travel bookings to Cuba for both U.S. and non-U.S. travelers, including through its instant booking platform for hotels, hotel price comparison search (metasearch), display advertising, flights, cultural tours and attractions, and short-term rentals.
In accordance with OFAC guidelines, TripAdvisor may facilitate travel that is consistent with any one of the categories of travel that is authorized by OFAC including: family visits; official business of the U.S government, foreign government travel, and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials; and certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines.
“It is both exciting and historic that the U.S. Treasury Department has granted TripAdvisor approval to facilitate and promote travel to Cuba,” said Seth Kalvert, senior vice president, general counsel and secretary, TripAdvisor. “We want to thank President Obama for his leadership on opening commercial, diplomatic and personal relations with Cuba and its people. We also want to thank those in Congress who have championed the promotion of travel between our two countries, especially the sponsors of the Freedom to Travel to Cuba legislation, which has more than 50 U.S. Senate co-sponsors and more than 40 co-sponsors in the U.S. House of Representatives. We urge Congress to make these relationships permanent by passing legislation that gives U.S. citizens the unrestricted freedom to travel to Cuba.”
Earlier this year, TripAdvisor executives made their first official visit to Cuba for a fact-finding mission and to support U.S. legislative action. According to the company, it will continue to build relationships inside Cuba and with the U.S. government to further open relations between our two countries.