How Does the New Cuba Policy Affect Travel and Tourism?

New opportunities for Cuba travel

We are very excited and enthusiastic about the changes in Cuba policy announced today by President Obama. According to our understanding, there will be some changes forthcoming regarding diplomatic relations, commerce, flow of information and, of course, tourism. The new rules have not yet been announced, but several things are clear. 

  • Without an end to the embargo, we will not be able to hop on a flight and spend a weekend at the beach in Cuba.
  • With new rules that are sure to come in the next weeks, there will be many more opportunities and less restrictions regarding how Americans are able to travel to Cuba.

Regarding the second point, we are truly excited to be able to expand our group tours to Cuba. At present, we’re selling three programs with set departures. In addition, we operate many groups during the year covering a wide spectrum of interests. Among them are photographers, architects, teachers, doctors, lawyers and jurists, family groups and many others.

We are hoping to see more relaxed rules that will permit us to offer a wider variety of programs, including participating in some of Cuba’s unique festivals and events. For example, in addition to the marathon in Cuba that brings a large number of participants to the island from many countries, including the USA, we would like to offer opportunities to participate in the music and film festivals, an annual bike race that is similar to the tour de France, and others.

What will likely change, and what will not

Our travelers prepay all their Cuba services in the USA. However, since it will soon be possible to use credit cards in Cuba, we anticipate that traveling to the island will be much easier for our passengers. At the moment, travelers need to take cash with them, to cover any purchases they want to make. In today’s world, it’s not so common to have to carry cash, and that makes many people uncomfortable. Perhaps, although this is not yet clear, it will finally be possible to bring back some of those Cuban cigars and rum, which today’s traveler can only enjoy on the island.

According to the OFAC notice published this afternoon, Dec. 17, some changes will be made to the regulations. “OFAC expects to issue its regulatory amendments in the coming weeks. None of the announced changes takes effect until the new regulations are issued.”

So, for the moment:

  • We still need to carry cash when we visit Cuba
  • We still need to participate in a licensed program, according to present rules
  • We still have to leave the cigars and rum in Cuba

But if the changes are as sweeping as President Obama suggested in his speech, we at Friendly Planet will be very busy adding hotel rooms and plenty of new travel programs to our menu of offerings.

See the REAL Cuba while you can

One last thought. For anyone who is anxious to see the “real” Cuba, do it now. In time, the island in a time bubble will become something else. And while it will always be a fascinating and wonderful experience to visit Cuba, banking, high speed internet and all the other changes that will take place will make Cuba another country. We expect many people will want to see it before any of those changes occur, and we’re ready to help them do it.

Friendly Planet Travel Cuba Tours and Travel Packages


  1. Susan Tonnar

    It was wonderful to travel to Havana with Friendly Planet under the old rules…can only imagine what fun it will be with the new!

  2. Jan wehrle

    Thanks for keeping us informed about air April 7 trip !

  3. Diedra

    This is awesome. I am so excited and happy that you are on point and in-the-know of all that is happening to make travel to this country at our utmost advantage. Thank you Peggy for sharing how Friendly Planet is proceeding with this wonderful news.

  4. My sisters & I attended a meeting at the senior center in Hillsboro, Ore. The travel agency that formed the meeting showed photos, etc. It looked interesting to me but then a few weeks later she said not enough people signed up for it to be viable. So please send me info on the cost with both airfare & the cost with out airfare. I am a retired flight attendant and may be able to get a discount ticket. Thank you for your consideration. Kim Sieren PS also rates for groups of senior citizens.

  5. Judy & Bob Weaver

    Just heard the Presidential Announcment about Cuba. We are very interested in June 13, 2015; Colors of Cuba but have not signed up yet. Four possibly six family members, all adults. The time is fairly set, after school is out. We are also interested in any new offering that may result from the Presidental action.

    Look forward to updates,
    Bob Weaver

    We live in Norther Wisconsin – Chicago or Minneapolis Airports

  6. Ty Campbell

    Would be interested in visiting Cuba when many of the restrictions are ease.





  8. IanJ

    Having been to Cuba, I know that it’s a great place for a vacation, great people, great beaches and many Western (European) hotels, though the food could be improved upon. I just hope it doesn’t mean that our inexpensive winter vacation will cost more, as US travelers take advantage of the new rules. 🙂

  9. Rolayne Venator

    This doesn’t effect my travel plans at all, but it’s about time.

  10. Adria

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been trying to figure out getting to Cuba for a while now. I’m hoping you’ll have your 2016 trips up soon. I’m ready to sign up! Cheers!

  11. Jane Reeves

    We’re on a FP Cuba tour right now. Participants would like to know if there are any changes to what we can bring back. It’s been hard to get info.

  12. Linda Flanders

    The new policies won’t stop Cuba
    From sucking. Save your money
    The food and music are good. That’s
    About it

  13. William Cobane

    Would definitely recommend seeing Cuba before the upcoming changes are fully in effect. Having been on the first Friendly Planet trip to Cuba, I can saw that it is one of the best ways to experience the island. If I do return at some point, it will probably be on another Friendly Planet tour.

  14. nina kandel

    I have been to Cuba with you in the west and Havana. I would love to take a tour to the eastern part. Do you go there?

  15. Jerry McKenna

    My wife and I are very interested in taking one of your tours to Cuba once the new rules are out.

  16. Marilyn Mann

    It’s about time !!!!!!!

  17. Hi Nina,
    Happy to hear you’ve already visited Cuba with us, but currently our offerings only focus on Western Cuba.

  18. Hi Jane,
    At the moment, it appears you can bring home $100 worth of cigars and rum. You can not resell these items, but they are allowed for personal use. The rule is not completely clear, but our thinking is that it will be allowed into the country. We have asked our Cuba legal advisers for their opinion on this matter and should have a reply from them shortly. At that time, we’ll update our post.


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