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On Tuesday, June 4, 2019, the Trump administration announced new travel restrictions on visits to Cuba. The restrictions, reported by major news sources including CNN and PBS, prohibit educational and recreational trips to the country and are scheduled to take effect on Wednesday, June 5.

Group Travel To Cuba Prohibited

Tourism to Cuba has not been explicitly allowed for quite some time, but since organized group travel has not been prohibited, Americans have been able to visit the country that way -- until now.

The Trump administration has cracked down on disguised tourism to Cuba by forbidding organized tour groups. One of the most common forms of organized group travel is educational travel, or international programs that allow students to travel to Cuba and other countries for educational purposes.

Passenger and recreational forms of transportation, including cruise ships, yachts, and private and corporate aircraft, will also be prohibited.

The ban will go into effect when it is published in the Federal Register on Wednesday.

The Plaza Vieja in Old Havana, Cuba

Why Was Group Travel Banned?

The ban is intended to prevent tourists from spending U.S. money in Cuba.

“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 Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services.”

According to a spokesperson from the State Department’s Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, the ban will “steer American dollars away from the Cuban regime.”

The spokesperson said that the ban will not affect commercial flights, including “family travel and other lawful forms of travel,” however.

An old American car on the beach in Cienfuego, Cuba

Authorized Ways To Visit Cuba

Tourism to Cuba may be banned, but if you’re curious to know what sort of travel is still allowed, here are the 11 authorized categories of travel to Cuba:

  • family visits
  • official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
  • journalistic activity
  • professional research and professional meetings
  • 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 informational materials
  • certain authorized export transactions

In August 2018, the State Department issued a Level 2 travel advisory for Cuba, recommending that those traveling to the country exercise increased caution.

Photo Credit: Kamira / Shutterstock

Photo Credit: Jess Kraft / Shutterstock

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