Travel to Cuba just got easier and, probably, less expensive. The United States government on Tuesday announced new rules that allow Americans to travel independently to Cuba on what they call “people-to-people” trips, one of the most popular ways to see the island. This means that Americans who want to go and spend their time meeting ordinary Cubans no longer have to book their trip through an organization. They can buy a ticket — for now, on a charter flight but soon from a commercial airline — book themselves somewhere to stay on Airbnb, and voilà.
Collin Laverty, the founder of Cuba Educational Travel, said that allowing Americans to travel on their own would make Cuba accessible to younger, less wealthy travelers who could not afford to spend, say, $4,000 on an organized weeklong trip.
“It’s going to democratize and diversify travel,” Mr. Laverty said. Speaking by phone from Havana, he added, “And it will give Cubans a more diverse view of Americans.”
Here are frequently asked questions that people have as they plan their trips.
Can any United States citizen visit Cuba now?
Americans still can go to Cuba only if the trip falls within one of 12 categories, including visits to close relatives, academic programs, professional research, journalistic or religious activities and participation in public performances or sports competitions. They can also go to organize a professional event or competition, to film and produce television programs and movies, to record music and to create art there. Even those traveling to Cuba independently on people-to-people trips are expected to have a full-time schedule of activities and retain documents that demonstrate how they spent their time. Ordinary tourism remains off-limits: Travelers may be asked by their travel organization to sign an affidavit that denotes the purpose of their trip, and they are required to keep travel receipts for five years after they return.
What are people-to-people trips?
People-to-people trips are educational programs that are open to anybody, but require a full-time schedule of activities that produce “meaningful interaction between the traveler and individuals in Cuba.” Now that Americans can design their own people-to-people trips, it is less clear what constitutes “full time” or “meaningful interaction.”