The U.S. Treasury Department has tightened restrictions on travel to Cuba in retaliation to the country’s “destabilizing role” in the western hemispheric region.
The agency said in a statement Tuesday it has banned group educational “people-to-people” travel to Cuba, one of the primary ways Americans visit the Caribbean island. Thousands of Americans began using this method to visit the island even before the administration of former President Barack Obama restored full diplomatic relations with the country in 2014.
The Treasury Department also banned private and corporate aircraft and boats from traveling to Cuba. Commercial airline flights are apparently allowed to continue, as is travel by university groups, journalists and those attending professional meetings.
Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said the ban was imposed for Cuba’s role in the region, including its support for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
“Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western Hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up U.S. adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law, and suppressing democratic processes,” said Mnuchin. “These actions will help to keep US. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services.”
Cruise Industry Ordered To Suspend Cuba Trips
Effective immediately without warning or notice, the Trump administration abruptly ended the emerging U.S. cruise industry’s love affair with Cuba last week.
Cuba accounts for a small percent of sailings at about 4% for Norwegian Cruise, about 3% for Royal Caribbean, and about a percent for Carnival, Wolfe Research analyst Jared Shojaian wrote in a note.
Shojaian said that while cruise lines can easily swap a Cuban port for another non-Cuban port, guests may have purchased the itinerary entirely for Cuba.
“That means cruise lines may need to issue refunds or future cruise credits to compensate guests, which makes forecasting the earnings impact to 2019 even harder, and potentially more of a headwind,” he said.
Shares of Norwegian Cruise closed down 3.5%, while Royal Caribbean and Carnival ended about 3% lower on the day of the announcement.
The agency said the sanctions would become effective after they are published Wednesday in the Federal Register.