US Bans Most Solo Travel to Cuba, Imposes Tighter Sanctions

Travel to Cuba gets much harder Thursday under new Trump rules

Trump Places New Restrictions On Travel And Trade To Cuba

Americans also will be barred from staying at a long list of hotels and patronizing restaurants, stores and other enterprises the State Department has determined are owned by or benefit members of the Cuban government, specifically its security services. The list includes 83 state-owned hotels, including famous hotels in Old Havana such as Ernest Hemingway's erstwhile favorite haunt the Hotel Ambos Mundos, as well as the city's new luxury shopping mall.

The new policy maintains several categories of travel to Cuba that are permitted despite the embargo, which carries on decades after the Cold War's end.

The Cuban hotels listed included those run by military-linked chains Gaviota and Habaguanex.

The administration's policy change comes 20 months after Obama became the first sitting US president in almost a century to visit the island - part of numerous efforts his administration made to thaw relations between the United States and Cuba.

"The hypocrisy of the White House ideologues is glaring".

There was no immediate reaction from Cuba's government.

Under the new rules, most individual visits to Cuba will no longer be allowed, and USA citizens will again have to travel as part of a licensed group, accompanied by a group representative.

The tighter restrictions are not expected to have a significant impact on American travel to Cuba, that has surged in recent years.

Travelers need to be able to show a "full-time schedule" with activities that support Cuban people and show "meaningful interaction", going beyond merely staying in rooms in private homes, eating in private restaurants, or shopping in private stores, a US official told reporters on a conference call. The goal is to encourage financial support for Cuba's growing private sector, said senior Trump administration officials, who briefed reporters on a conference call on condition they not be quoted by name. Officials said they would use information obtained from several USA agencies to catch violators, who could be subject to penalties and criminal prosecution.

"A backward-looking policy harms both Cubans and Americans", she told Anadolu Agency.

Administration officials said the new regulations, which go into effect Thursday, would not affect travel arrangements already made or contracts already signed, which are to be grandfathered under existing law. Business deals already reached with entities on the prohibited list will be allowed to proceed. The Commerce Department will simplify and expand a license that allows American companies to export certain consumer products to Cuba without asking for special permission from the US government.

The measures, to come into force one week after 191 of 193 United Nations member countries condemned Washington's blockade on Cuba for more than half a century, also amends the definition of "Cuban Government banned officials to include some additional individuals".

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