U.S. State Department Downgrades Cuba Travel Advisory

by Daniel McCarthy
U.S. State Department Downgrades Cuba Travel Advisory

The State Department is still warning travelers to avoid Hotel Nacional in Havana. Photo: simonovstas/Shutterstock.com.

The United States Department of State on Thursday downgraded its Cuban travel advisory to “exercise increased caution,” the second downgrade that Cuba has seen since a “Do Not Travel” warning was issued in 2017.

The warning had been at “reconsider travel,” which is Level 3 in the State Department’s updated advisory system, since early 2018. Prior to that, it had been at “Do Not Travel,” which is Level 4, after news broke of health attacks directed at American diplomats in Havana.

“Numerous U.S. Embassy Havana employees appear to have been targeted in specific attacks …  Affected individuals have exhibited a range of physical symptoms including ear complaints and hearing loss, dizziness, headaches, fatigue, cognitive issues, visual problems, and difficulty sleeping,” the State Department’s website reads.

The State Department, which has been unable to identify the source of that attack, is still recommending travelers take certain steps before traveling to Cuba, including enrolling in its Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), consulting with doctors, and creating a contingency plan for emergency situations.

“Exercise increased caution in Cuba due to attacks targeting U.S. Embassy Havana employees resulting in the drawdown of embassy staff,” the new warning reads.

The State Department is still recommending travelers avoid the locations of those attacks, Hotel Nacional and Hotel Capri in Havana.

Business to Cuba suffered after the attacks and the announcement that the U.S. was rolling back some of the new Cuba travel rules, last year. But, according to Tom Popper, the president of Cuba specialist insightCuba, interest in travel to the country has increased over the last few months.

With the updated warning system and the new restrictions, travel agents have an opportunity to step in and play a positive role of educating consumers and dispelling misconceptions.

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