Why Traveling To Cuba Matters Now

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Traveling To Cuba Now

It doesn’t seem all that long ago that traveling to Cuba was near impossible for the average American tourist. In 2014 President Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro took historic steps to lessen the gap between the Cuban people and Americans however, and in the last two years travel to Cuba has boomed. While this has meant wonderful opportunities for travel for American citizens, after decades of embargo, it has also meant unimaginable opportunities for local Cubans operating small private businesses amidst a communist regime.

When the current administration announced a roll back on individual people-to-people travel last month, confusion abounded. Dramatic headlines left American travelers and travel agents alike scratching their heads as to whether or not it was still legal to visit Cuba at all. (YES, it is!) However the Cuban people suffered immediate repercussions. Not the Cuban government, not Cuba’s political leaders, but the everyday citizens who have such a warm and gracious culture to share with all of us. At Access Trips, it is for this reason that we feel the need to straighten out the rumors and misinformation around travel to Cuba.

What is Legal, and What Isn’t

Traveling to Cuba is legal for Americans who fall into 12 categories of travel. That hasn’t changed with the June 16 executive order. What changed is that American citizens are no longer allowed to travel independently and simply self-certify that they participated in people-to-people activities. American visitors to Cuba who do not legitimately fall within the other 10 categories (such as family travel or professional meetings) must travel with a tour group that operates under a license to operate educational “people-to-people” or “support for the Cuban people” tours.

What has also changed is that Americans (whether in tour groups or not), are no longer allowed to spend money in establishments that benefit the Cuban military. Seems like an odd thing to require, but in fact one of the largest tourism companies in Cuba, and owner of many of its hotels, is run by the Cuban military. Not only does this new restriction apply to hotels, but to restaurants, bars, and other tourist establishments as well. Access Culinary Trips is proud that we have always worked exclusively with private accommodations and have found incredible opportunities to connect with local Cuban people that are not part of the standard, government-run tours. In the few cases where we do visit a government facility (such as a museum) it is our job to ensure that it meets the legal requirements so you don’t have to worry.

Cuba is a wonderful, exotic, struggling, surviving, and thriving country of contrasts that isn’t easily navigable for the traveler without lots of local knowledge. With travel restrictions or not, if you don’t speak Spanish fairly fluently, you will quite literally be lost in Cuba. Because of this, and because of the complicated systems used for communication, transportation, and lodging, we have always recommended small-group tours for traveling to Cuba securely. That remains the same today.

Small Groups, No Stress, Big Impact

Now that you know you traveling to Cuba is legal on a licensed, small-group tour, what makes an Access Trips Cuba tour tick? The local guides who have become like family to us. In fact, if we can compel you with nothing else, we want you to travel to Cuba now to meet with and mutually benefit from the wonderful people we come into contact with every day on our tours. Our culinary adventures take visitors inside the kitchens of famous paladares, onto organic farms, and down the cobblestone streets of Cuba to experience first hand how locals live, eat and enjoy life.

Our tours put money into the pockets of everyday Cubans. Although the new restrictions will negatively impact the number of Americans traveling to Cuba, those who go have the potential to help local Cubans continue to thrive. With Access Trips you will stay in upscale private residences, eat in authentic Cuban eateries, meet locals doing incredible things and explore the real Cuba.

Travel with us to Cuba to secure your place in Cuban history and get access to the most authentic experiences available, while making an impact on the local economy of each place we visit. Give back in Havana, Trinidad, and Viñales. Your dollars will filter directly to private citizens first, which puts the power of change in your hands, and the power of growth in the hands of the Cuban people.