American’s Can Now Travel to Cuba
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For the 1st time in more than 50 years, a scheduled commercial flight from the United States landed in Cuba last week.
JetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU) flight 387 took off from Fort Lauderdale Airport at 9:45a Wednesday with 150 passengers aboard. The plane landed 51 mins later at the Santa Clara airport, about 180 miles from Havana.
About 1.6 years ago US President Barack HusseinObama announced that the US and Cuba were beginning the process of normalizing diplomatic relations.
Since that announcement on 17 December 2014, some changes have been made. Both countries opened embassies, direct Mail service returned and cruises are now stopping in the island nation.
The Carnival’s May 1 cruise (NYSE:CCL) from the US to Cuba was the 1st since Y 1959.
JetBlue will fly from Ft. Lauderdale to Santa Clara 3X a week until 1 October. Thereafter the route will be available daily. JetBlue plans to have up to 7 daily flights to Cuba, including routes to cities like Havana, Camagüey and Holguín, which will begin in the Fall.
The next major US carrier flying to Cuba will be American Airlines (NYSE:AAL), which will begin service on 7 September to Cienfuegos and Hoguin. American will add 3 more Cuba destinations by the end of this year.
The number of Americans visiting Cuba has steadily increased since the 2 countries began to normalize relations. In Y 2015, 161,000 American tourists visited the island, up 77% from Y 2014. This year, 94,000 Americans visited Cuba in 1-H of this year.
If you are planning a trip to Cuba, below are some things to remember, as follows:
Before the US began normalized relations with Cuba, travel to the island was allowed under strict guidelines only.
Today tourist travel to island nation is prohibited for US citizens, which means you cannot just go to there to see the sights and play on the beach.
American citizens can apply for a Cuban visa if their reason for travel fits in one of following 12 categories:
- Family visits
- Official business of the US government, foreign governments, 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
- Certain authorized export transactions.
The Big Q: Who determines what category you fall under?
The Big A; You do, as you can self certify.
When booking a trip, your airline or your travel agent will ask you to pick one of the 12 reasons for travel, it is an honor system. That said, it is prudent to travel with documentation that can back up your personal certification and where you will stay when in Cuba
Border agents are also more comfortable when you can provide an address for where you will be staying.
Have a terrific Labor Day Holiday.