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Restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba reinstituted

The Trump administration has reinstituted restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba, also banning cruise ship port calls that have become very popular since the Obama administration opened the communist island state to U.S. visitors, which in the past caused the Ministry of Tourism to raise an eyebrow at the prospect of a Cuba fully opened to American travelers.

The Associated Press (AP) reported yesterday that U.S. President Donald Trump “imposed major new travel restrictions on visits to Cuba by U.S. citizens, banning stops by cruise ships and ending a heavily used form of educational travel as it seeks to further isolate the communist government”.

“The treasury department announced that the U.S. will no longer allow cruises to Cuba or the group educational and cultural trips known as ‘people to people’ travel to the island,” the AP article stated.

“Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the measures are a response to what it calls Cuba’s ‘destabilizing role’ in the Western Hemisphere, including support for the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.”

Mnuchin was quoted in the article, saying: “This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime. These actions will help to keep U.S. dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence and security services.”

The former Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) administration considered joining forces with Cuba to create a multi-destination package.

Tourism and Aviation Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar told Guardian Business yesterday that The Bahamas continues to be the leading cruise destination in the region due to the country’s private island destinations.

“Obviously there is an enormous amount of interest in Cuba because so few people from this hemisphere have traveled there, so there is a distinct interest to see something new and different.

“At the end of the day, they only have two berths, so there are only so many ships they can take in,” D’Aguilar said.

“Nassau can take up to seven ships, can take the Oasis class ships, you have got obviously within the country all the private islands: Castaway Cay, Ocean Cay, the complete redo of the ‘Perfect Day’ at Coco Cay; you have got Virgin going to Bimini, Carnival expanding at Half Moon Cay and of course you have Princess Cay; you have Carnival hoping to build a new port in Grand Bahama to accommodate two ships; you’ve got Royal Caribbean with a substantial project in Grand Bahama to accommodate two to four ships, so you know there is no doubt that the cruise capital of the Caribbean is The Bahamas.

“It would be hard for any Caribbean country to compete against.”

The company that has won the bid to redevelop Nassau’s cruise port, Global Ports Holding (GPH), also has an interest in cruise port development in Cuba.

GPH declined to comment on the matter yesterday.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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