Explaining the latest changes
By the Cuba Journal staff
The United States has further loosened travel restrictions to Cuba.
Though ordinary tourism remains banned, Americans can now visit Cuba, without applying for a license from the government, for the following reasons: visits to close relatives, academic programs, professional research, journalistic or religious pursuits, and participation in public performances or athletic competitions, according to the New York Times.
One popular option for tourists is people-to-people trips, as many of these organized educational programs fall into the categories of permitted travel.
Visitors will now also be permitted to bring family members with them when traveling to Cuba for these reasons.
Though there are still no commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba, charter flights are available from Miami, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, New York, Los Angeles, and New Orleans.
According to the NYT, however, the Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of working with the Cuban aviation authorities to establish regularly scheduled commercial flights.
The new regulations dictate that cruise ship and passenger ferries can now operate without a license, provided the people on board are licensed to travel there.
The island still has a scarcity of high-end hotels, though it does offer the alternative of bed-and-breakfasts, which provide the opportunity for guests to experience a more immersive cultural stay, and over 2,000 available stay options on Airbnb.
American travelers to Cuba will now be able to open a bank account and pay for their expenses with an American credit card, though they may still be better off relying on their own cash supply, due to the lack of ample ATMs on the island.
Visitors who do not want to wait in line to use the phones of the Cuban state-owned telecommunications company, Etecsa, will be able to make voice calls and send text messages over Verizon Wireless, albeit at a rate of $2.99 a minute.
The new rules now also permit Americans to bring back up to $400 in souvenirs, including up to $100 worth of cigars.