US government to lift Cuban travel restrictions

Since the US embargo on Cuba began in the 1960s, the small nation has been inaccessible – at least directly – from the United States. Even though the Cuban capital Havana is just an hour’s flight from Miami, anyone wanting to travel between the USA and Cuba currently needs to get to an intermediate country first, such as Mexico or Canada.

The result of the trade embargo and travel restrictions imposed for over 50 years on Cuba is a relatively isolated country unlike any other with a unique culture, a fascinating history and only a relatively small number of tourists. Cuba has escaped much of the influence of the western world, making the small nation an attractive destination as a visit feels like a step back in time.

Recently, US President Barack Obama announced intentions of lifting travel restrictions on Cuba. This is arguably a positive step for US travellers and Cubans alike and marks significant progress in the normalising of relations between the two very different nations. But does it mean that Cuba will eventually lose its charm?

…Cuba has its own historic charms of being stuck 30 years behind. Its a place that you want to visit before any modernisation gets there and if it ever does, it will change the entire vibe of the place of a place stuck in time to something that will become a Mexican Cancun. If one day and whenever the border restrictions are lifted, I will bet you that the first thing that will happen is the opening of a Hilton Hotel, thousands of Americans (who have been forcibly restricted from ever getting there) will flock to there in droves. The one hour flight from Miami will make Cuba highly accessible and depsite it will be a huge bonus for the local Cubans, selfishly again, the identity of the Cuba that I visited in 2012, will be gone.

The idea of influxes of tourists and “Westernisation” spoiling a destination is not new. In recent years there have been concerns that countries like Myanmar, which have only recently developed a tourism industry, will also their unique charm as tourists and rapid economic development bring about major changes to a once relatively isolated and untouched nation. In the case of Myanmar, the advice has been clear: If you want to visit, travel now before it becomes overrun with tourists and the country loses a small part of its identity.

As a number of our members express concerns that Cuba will suffer a similar fate, they contemplate making one final trip there in the near future, before the travel restrictions are lifted.

Planned to be there in September this year, but the window got too small, so I put it off. Must try early in the new year; I agree tit will change greatly when Americans can go there freely.

What do you think will happen to Cuba? Are you considering a trip to see the country before these changes take effect? Join the discussion HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]