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What U.S. travelers need to know.

Jess McHugh
November 08, 2017

If you've been planning a trip to Cuba in 2018, you're going to want to pay attention.

The U.S. is implementing restrictions on business and personal travel to Cuba starting Thursday, making it more difficult for U.S. passport-holders to visit the island.

U.S. President Donald Trump announced in June his decision to partially roll back elements of a diplomatic thaw initiated by former President Barack Obama.

Beginning Thursday, travelers who want to head to Cuba will continue to be able to do so under the “people-to-people” guidelines, which encourages cultural exchange and education. They will need to book such travel through an official U.S. tour group, however, and a member of that group must accompany them to the island.

U.S. authorities have also barred citizens and residents from doing business with about 180 companies in Cuba, including hotels and stores with ties to the Cuban government, the Miami Herald reported.

“We have strengthened our Cuba policies to channel economic activity away from the Cuban military and to encourage the government to move toward greater political and economic freedom for the Cuban people,” Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said in a statement.

The rollback returns travel to Cuba for U.S. citizens more to what it was before: Possible, but with more hoops to jump through.

Travelers who booked travel prior to Trump's announcement in June, under the now-old new guidelines, will be exempt and will not need to cancel their trip.

Industry professionals remained optimistic for the future of traveling to Cuba, reinforcing the fact that some of the Obama-era changes will remain in place.

"Cuba remains open for business," Charel van Dam, CMO of Cuba Travel Network, told Travel + Leisure in a statement, adding, "The announcements do not bring much more news than the previous announcement — other than to be very specific about which businesses are now off limits. However there are still many accommodations, restaurants, bars and shops available to U.S. travelers.”

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