Hundreds of Hotels in Cuba Now Prohibited for U.S. Citizens

The Trump administration has just imposed new travel restrictions on Cuba

Havana, Cuba

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A slew of new restrictions for travel to Cuba were announced by the Trump Administration last week. The regulations apply to all U.S. citizens traveling to the island nation south of Florida. U.S. travelers are now banned from staying at 433 hotels alleged to be owned or controlled by the government to deny the government sources of revenue. The list of hotels is on the State Department website. It includes iconic properties like Iberostar Parque Central, Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Saratoga, Meliá Cohiba, Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, NH Capri La Habana, and the storied Hotel Nacional de Cuba.

Instead, travelers are encouraged to stay at approved casa particulares, privately-owned accommodations, although some of those are on the prohibited list as well. The new order also makes it illegal to bring back Cuban rum or cigars into the U.S., disallows U.S. citizens to attend or organize professional meetings or conferences in Cuba, and prohibits them from participating in and organizing certain public performances, clinics, workshops, competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba. Previously, visitors returning to the U.S. were allowed to have Cuban alcohol and tobacco in their luggage for personal consumption, but that is no longer allowed.

The administration made the announcement in the swing-state of Florida, where there is a large bloc of Cuban-American would-be voters.

“Today, we reaffirm our ironclad solidarity with the Cuban people and our eternal conviction that freedom will prevail over the sinister forces of communism and evil in many different forms,” Trump said.

The administration has continually rolled back much of President Obama’s loosening of sanctions against Cuba and the opening of borders. In June 2019, it disallowed U.S. cruise ships to visit Cuba, and in October 2019, it prohibited all flights to Cuban cities besides Havana. Earlier this summer, Marriott was forced to exit Cuba, ceasing plans for new hotels and close the one hotel—the only U.S.-managed hotel in the country—it already had there, the Four Points by Sheraton Havana.

Although these new rules are confusing, U.S. travelers can still visit Cuba legally under these conditions:

  • Family visits
  • Official U.S. government business
  • Journalistic activity
  • Professional research and meetings
  • Educational activities (like those from U.S. academic institutions and secondary schools)
  • Religious activities
  • Support for the Cuban people
  • Humanitarian projects

In September, the first international flights since their lockdown began in March arrived at Cuban airports outside Havana. Havana Jose Marti International Airport remains closed due to the pandemic but plans to reopen Nov. 1, 2020.