Cuba is the talk of the week with President Obama announcing his intention to roll back many of the travel and economic restrictions associated with the island nation. And, yes, it may soon be possible to legally bring back up to $100 worth of Cuban cigars, but that is not the same thing as eliminating the restrictions on tourism to the island. And, at least for now, that’s not really on the table. While there has been much mention of making it easier for US travelers to get the necessary permits to legally visit Obama’s proposal does not make regular tourist traffic a viable option. At least not yet.
Perhaps it is somewhat ironic that big businesses in the USA are likely to win with these moves before the everyday consumer or traveler is. There is certainly a huge economic market available 90 miles south of Florida for all sorts of investments. In the travel space the major hotel chains are likely to be the first with major moves. Airlines & cruise operators should follow soon thereafter, assuming normal tourist traffic opens up. And we don’t really know if the airlines will be limited to the specific bilateral route authorities which were in place when relations froze 54 years ago. It seems unlikely, for example, that United Airlines is going to operate service from Miami or New Orleans to Havana even if the markets opened up fully tomorrow.
Oh, and there’s a decent chance that at least some of the reform is held up in Congress. There are a lot of high ranking members pretty annoyed about the announcement.
As for me, I mostly want the chance to fly on some of the classic aircraft Cubana still has in the fleet. And to visit and explore the island, of course.
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