While leisure, business and group travel to Cuba is permitted for Canadian residents, the U.S. only recently relaxed some of its travel restrictions. A few tour operators promoted trips to Cuba prematurely. Relaxed guidelines do not mean it's open season for Cuban travel. While thousands of Americans travel illegally via Canada to Cuba every year, Canadian and US authorities are sharing information. As the Detroit Free Press put it:
"You may think you've snuck into Cuba, but later you may get a bill for $2000-$7500 for the violation."
Ouch! So what's the inside scoop?
"Purposeful travel" to Cuba allows religious, cultural, educational and artistic organizations to obtain permission for very specific types of activities. Translation? Trips to Cuba for Americans are not vacations at 5 star hotels or resorts.
"....it must be educational and interactive with Cubans....no beaches"
"the first group of travelers have been to orphanages, medical facilities, art museums, music performances and tobacco farms.."
Cuba Travel: Americans Arrive To Open Arms, Awe [With Photos]
" 'People-to-people exchanges,' ....booked solid with cultural immersion activities, were approved in January ....Reuters reports that 30 to 35 groups have already been approved for travel to the island."
The time may come when Americans can to travel to Cuba for vacations, conferences, business meetings, and incentive travel. It is unlikely that incentive travel planners will adding Cuba to their lists of destinations in the foreseeable future. For now, travel to Cuba is still controversial. A bill will soon be considered by the House of Representatives to restore the restrictions that were in place under the Bush Administration.
For more information about the types of travel permitted to Cuba for US residents, read FAQ on Cuba Travel.