US Returns Restrictions on Cuba Tourism. No Problem for Canadians

In a visit to Little Havana in Miami, US President Donald Trump announced a re-imposition of the ban on tourism by individual Americans, as well as tighter controls on commerce with the government of Raul Castro. The restrictions reverse many, but not all, of the embargo sanctions lifted by President Obama in early 2016.

The restrictions on individual travel (which under the Obama deal allowed travel by individuals for educational or people-to-people pre-arrangements) will impact the surge of American tourism and US-based airline travel that in 2016 allowed more than 600,000 Americans to visit the island nation as visitors and tourists. Canadians still far outpace that number of visitors, making well over one million trips to Cuba each year.

What will this mean for Canadians visiting Cuba? It should mean less congestion when looking for hotel and resort room space—which was getting cramped by increasing numbers of new tourists from the US. And it may mean less incentive for tourism providers to raise prices. Tourism analysts believe that when Americans enter any tourism market, retail prices rise.

There is also the possibility that developers, who have been expanding the number of rooms in anticipation of a surge from the mainland just 90 miles away at the closest point, may feel the need to fill those rooms at lower prices.

It will mean a drastic cutback in scheduled American airline arrivals, which just last year underwent a huge boom, when Cuba and the US government agreed to expansion of airline landing permits throughout Cuba. In fact, the expansion had already begun to retreat even before the recent announcement, as the number of airline seats far outpaced demand. For Canadians this should have little impact, as air travel between Cuba and Canada continues to flourish.

Canadians can expect little change in their travel relations with Cuba. Travel Canada continues to warn that Canadian visitors to Cuba must have their travel documents in order including valid passports, tourist cards that are available through their travel provider, access to sufficient cash to handle unexpected emergencies, and private travel insurance with coverage beyond that provided by their provincial health plan. Travel Canada emphasizes that though proof of provincial travel insurance may be sufficient to allow entry to Cuba, it likely would not be sufficient to cover the costs of any serious medical emergencies, and Cuban authorities will not allow anyone with outstanding medical bills to leave the country.

So as it appears at this point, don’t let the news of a re-imposition of US restrictions on travel to Cuba deter you from making your own plans—so long as you travel directly from and to Canada.  No week-long side trips from Florida or Texas if you’re Canadian snowbirds. That can land you in a whole lot of trouble.


Have you found the perfect resort for your travels to Cuba? Congratulations! Do not forget to pack your travel insurance.

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