Old Havana Skyline, taken by Wikimedia Commons/Flickr user Gabriel Rodríguez.

About a year ago now, President Obama loosened the restrictions required to obtain “people-to-people” licenses for travel to Cuba. The program was first created in 1999 by former-President Bill Clinton, but were done away with in 2003 under W’s increased travel restrictions. The United States has had an economic embargo (which Clinton had actually expanded) in effect for over the last half-century, prohibiting regular travel to Cuba, among other things.

So, once again, these people-to-people licenses are back, though there are still some qualifications to be met before the average American citizen can visit this Communist island. What these licenses do is allow regular people (those in certain sectors are eligible regardless) to visit Cuba without special permits, so long as they travel with a licensed tour operator.

The reason that they are referred to as “people-to-people” licenses are because the requirements of obtaining said license involve planning a trip to Cuba that is intended to invoke communication between peoples of both countries; travel to Cuba without this purpose at the forefront is still prohibited.

So, tour operators offer some expensive options (usually over $2000) to cater to those wishing to step foot on this island. Most travel packages to Cuba involve cultural activities, such as art exhibits, speaking with local musicians and artists, visiting orphanages, and even farming. Though itineraries are jam-packed to meet the approval of the U.S. government, travelers usually are given free time in the evenings and nights, allowing them a few of the pleasures that have been otherwise forbidden.

Spending money in Cuba is still, for the most part, prohibited; souvenirs such as Cuban cigars or rum are not allowed back in the States.

For More Information on Traveling to Cuba:

– or- Contact the Cuban Interest Section

Tel: +1 (202) 797-8518,851819,8520
Fax: +1 (202) 797-8521
Address: 2630 16 St. N W.
Washington D. C. 20009

Cuba Travel Organizers:

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