The Government Just Made It a Little Easier to Visit Cuba

The Biden Administration has reinstated educational group travel.

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The US has had a tumultuous relationship with Cuba, but despite historic travel bans, restrictions have eased in recent years—in part thanks to changes made by the Obama Administration. Now, the federal government is again taking steps to make it travel to Cuba easier. 

Americans can now sign up for group people-to-people educational travel, as well as fly on commercial or chartered flights to Havana and more, a senior administration official told reporters earlier this week. The trips also must be "purposeful" and "allow for greater engagement between the American people and the promotion of their democratic values," according to Travel + Leisure

Despite the policy update, individual people-to-people educational travel has not been reinstated. The Treasury Department may even audit groups to ensure travelers are following guidelines.

"The Cuban people are confronting an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, and our policy will continue to focus on empowering the Cuban people to help them create a future free from repression and economic suffering," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday. "These [policies] are designed to center on human rights and empowering the Cuban people to determine their own future."

US policy on travel to Cuba has shifted over the years. It wasn't until 2015 that the Obama Administration first reopened borders for people-to-people group travel (which includes organized, multi-day trips with a group of travelers under the same itinerary) in hopes of promoting better diplomatic relations. While that was later extended to cruise travel as well as individual trips, the Trump Administration banned cruises and all flights to Cuba other than Havana. 

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Megan Schaltegger is a Staff Writer on the News team at Thrillist.