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NTA reacts to proposed changes in Cuba policy

June 18, 2017

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 16, 2017) — The National Tour Association responded to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision, announced today, to change the policy affecting the parameters under which U.S. citizens are able to travel to Cuba.

President Trump’s signed directive will cancel the Obama administration’s move to ease sanctions on Cuba, but there will be few immediate changes. The policy will enforce the 12 authorized categories allowing American citizens to travel to Cuba, more specifically, curbing one known as “people-to-people” trips. Educational trips still qualify, but they must be part of a group trip led by a guide.

According to Engage Cuba, rolling back current Cuba policy could cost U.S. businesses and taxpayers $6.6 billion and affect 12,200 jobs during President Trump’s first term.

“We are committed to supporting our member tour operators, hotels, cruise lines and other businesses that have invested in bringing tourism to Cuba,” said NTA President Pam Inman. “We want to do everything we can to protect those investments, while encouraging open travel that builds cultural bridges.”

The interest in travel to Cuba has grown since restrictions were eased beginning in 2014, which produced economic benefits for both nations.

While stopping short of a full reversal, Mr. Trump said he would like for Cuba to come back to the table with a new agreement. None of these changes will go into effect until the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments issue new regulations that conform with the administration’s policy.

NTA tour operator member Academic Travel Abroad is an experienced provider of people-to-people trips to Cuba. Kate Simpson, president of the Washington, D.C.-based company said, “We are equipped to continue operating our Cuba programs in full compliance with new federal regulations. We do not foresee any interruption, and we look forward to operating all trips with our usual impeccable standards, creative approach and focus on engagement.”

Simpson said that people-to-people or educational exchanges are still permitted as long as they are through a licensed organization and comply with a full-time schedule of meaningful interaction with Cubans. “Self-directed people-to-people travel is no longer permitted,” Simpson added.

About NTA: Founded in 1951, the National Tour Association is a global association of packaged-travel professionals who serve customers traveling to, from and within North America.

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