President Donald Trump is expected to make his long-awaited announcement about tightening travel and trade restrictions on Cuba this Friday in Miami.
According to reports, Trump’s new policy will make it more difficult for American travel companies to do business in Cuba. It would also disturb travel companies who have already carved out business on the island nation.
Possible changes Trump is considering include “reconfirming the licensing structure that would rescind the system that has allowed for easier travel to the country,” many news media report, as well as new regulations for businesses interested in working in the Cuban market; reinstating caps or outright banning imports from the country; and redefining the what it means to be a part of the Cuban government or military, which could affect contracts with the Cuban government.
Though the move does have backing from some senators, a bill called the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, which was introduced in the Senate in late May, had more broad support in the Senate. That bill would have permanently removed all remained travel restrictions into the country and had the support of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA).
“Lifting the travel ban will also bring follow-on economic benefits to Cuba’s neighbors and the travel industry that serves them by sparking demand for new passenger routes, tour operations, and travel agent services,” ASTA said in a statement, explaining that at least two million additional Americans would visit Cuba by 2019 if there were to be a full lifting of travel restrictions in 2017.
After decades of frozen relations between the two countries, then-President Barack Obama and Cuba President Raul Castro began to thaw restrictions in 2014.
Since then close to 30 U.S. businesses including tour operators, cruise companies and airlines, have jumped at the opportunity to do business in Cuba.
On the ocean, Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Azamara Club Cruises and Royal Caribbean have all entered the Cuban market while Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways and others have begun offering Cuban routes from the United States.
U.S. cruise operators and airlines could lose $712 million in annual revenues if restrictions are reinstated, according to lobby group Engage Cuba.