Effectively putting another nail in the coffin for Cuban travel, the Trump administration has just announced that it will prohibit flights between the United States and cities in Cuba with the exception of Havana, Travel Pulse online reported.
The new order from the administration, the latest in a series of efforts to all but eliminate travel to the island, calls for a 45-day period to wind down flights to non-Havana destinations in Cuba, which currently includes Santiago, Varadero and Santa Clara, among others.
“This is another counterproductive measure taken by the Trump administration as part of a completely failed approach towards Cuba. Travel between the US and Cuba benefits Cuban families, Cuban entrepreneurs and many US companies and these measures will greatly harm a lot of people,” Collin Laverty, president of Cuba Educational Travel, said.
“Ending flights to cities that are mostly frequented by Cubans traveling to see loved ones is another blow to Cuban families on both sides of the Florida straits.”
The Trump Administration has taken a series of measures to make it harder for Cubans to travel to the US and Americans and Cuban Americans to Cuba, leading to family separation, harm to Cuba’s private sector and general hardships for the Cuban people, the special report by Mia Taylor said.
“Guided by Senator Marco Rubio, the Trump Administration has subscribed to the same failed policy of over 50 years that has caused suffering to the Cuban people with the goal of causing civil unrest that would topple the Cuban government,” CET said in a statement. “The Trump Administration’s policy has led to significant suffering amongst Cuban families, entrepreneurs and average Cubans without achieving its objective of regime change.”
In June, the Trump administration announced yet another crackdown on travel to the country for US citizens. The administration issued a ban on “people to people” travel, which is the most common way Americans had visited the island.
The administration also put a stop to all cruises visiting the country, which had been a boon for the small island nation, bringing in some 800,000 travelers last year who had plenty of money to spend, the report said.
Those measures caused severe damage to the tourist economy in Cuba and to countless small Cuban businesses and average citizens. All of the policy changes have left Americans unclear about how to visit the island and as a result, many have opted to take their vacations in destinations that do not present such challenges.
Since those initial changes by the Trump administration, visitation to the island has plummeted.
The National Office of Statistics and Information of Cuba released data showing that there was a sharp decline in tourism activity to the Caribbean island in June, which local officials attributed to the sanctions imposed by the Trump administration, the report said.
Though the island saw a 2.4% increase in international passenger arrivals, there was an abrupt 20% drop in visitation once the US sanctions took effect.
In addition to losing ground among American visitors, Cuba has also lost ground with tourists from Russia, China, and Europe. Visitation from Canada, its main provider of tourists, also fell.
The Trump administration has said its measures are aimed at punishing the Cuban government, when in fact, just the opposite is taking place.
During a visit to the island this year, TravelPulse found that numerous average citizens are being hurt by the new measures from the administration.
Restaurant owners, local freelance tour guides, marketing agency owners and taxi drivers, all have seen their business come to a near standstill amid the new US policy, the report said.
“Trump is having an impact on a sector that had a high number of private business operators, the money was going directly to the people,” Cuban hotel owner Andrea Gallina told TravelPulse earlier this year during a reporter’s visit to the island. “So, of course, people are very disappointed.”
Giulio Ricci, a young Cuban economist who holds a master’s degree from the London School of Economics told TravelPulse that the decline of American visitors under the current American presidential administration has had an impact on the overall national income and on entrepreneurs in the country.
“In the end, it’s all people who are impacted,” Ricci told TravelPulse. “It’s kind of cynical to say we’re not affecting the people, we’re just affecting the government.”
This latest turn of events is one that will only make life even more difficult for Cubans, said Laverty, of CET, who told TravelPulse that the new measure is another attempt by the Trump Administration to “confuse and instill fear in US travelers with regard to Cuba.”
“How long are the politicians in South Florida and Washington going to kick around the Cuban people? Starving the Cuban people into submission is terrible for Cubans, contrary to national interests, and cruel,” added Laverty. “While Trump officials and Trump associates fly private jets and first-class to Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and North Korea, the Cuban people are not allowed to visit their family members in Holguin.”