US Tourism Sector Asks Trump to Lower Obstacles to Travel to Cuba

Far right: US Embassy building in Havana. On September 29 the Department of State asked Americans “not to travel to Cuba” because of the alleged acoustic attacks against diplomats in the US embassy there. (14ymedio)

14ymedio biggerEFE, via 14ymedio, Washington, 1 March 2018 — A coalition of 28 tour operators and US companies specializing in educational trips to Cuba called on President Donald Trump today to reduce restrictions on travel to the island, a destination that the US government recommends “reconsidering.”

Cuba is listed as a Category 3 Alert country (“reconsider the trip”) by the US Government.

“This warning of inappropriate travel has caused fear and confusion and has drastically reduced the number of US citizens traveling to Cuba,” Andrea Holbrook, CEO of Holbrook Travel, one of the companies signing the petition said in a statement.

On September 29 the Department of State asked Americans “not to travel to Cuba” because of the alleged acoustic attacks on the island between November 2016 and August of last year against 24 Americans (embassy staff or relatives), attacks of which the USA has not yet found the cause or the guilty parties.

In addition, the Trump Government withdrew 60% of the staff of the Embassy of Havana and expelled 15 diplomats from the Cuban Embassy in Washington.

“The consequences of the actions of the Department of State have negatively affected not only US companies and institutions that send travelers to Cuba for educational purposes, but the lack of Embassy staff in Havana has also made obtaining visas very difficult,” said Kate Simpson, president of Academic Travel Abroad.

In January, the government changed Cuba’s destination category and included it in Category 3, a rating that according to the tourism sector is “unjustifiable” due to the lack of real evidence that these attacks even happened.

For nations in Category 3, the United States recommends its citizens “avoid traveling due to serious security risks.”

This group also includes five other Latin American countries: Venezuela, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

On the other hand, the State Department is facing a deadline this week for the requirement that, six months after the reduction of the Embassy staff in Cuba, that staff must be reassigned to another location or returned to the same site.

In 2017, almost three times as many Americans traveled to Cuba compared to the previous year, according to data from the Cuban Foreign Ministry.


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