ASTA Urges Trump Administration to Keep Cuba Open For Travel
DESTINATION & TOURISM | ROBIN AMSTER | NOVEMBER 21, 2016
ASTA is urging President-Elect Donald Trump's administration to retain
recently-enacted regulations that have eased American travel to Cuba.
In a letter to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, ASTA President Zane
"We view the Administration's [President Obama's administration] recent
actions on Cuba travel as a step in the right direction and support
lifting the statutory 'travel ban' once and for all. Lifting the ban
will also bring follow-on economic benefits to Cuba's neighbors and the
travel industry that serves them by sparking demand for new air and sea
passenger routes, tour operations, and travel agent services."
ASTA's position contrasts with President-Elect Trump's ambivalence on
Cuba at best, and his outright opposition at worst.
Early in the campaign, Trump seemed to be saying he was not opposed to
opening up Cuba but in mid-October, he tweeted: "The people of Cuba have
struggled too long. . . . Will reverse Obama's Executive Orders and
concessions towards Cuba until freedoms are restored."
The Obama Administration in January 2015 took several actions following
the President's Executive Order to ease relations with Cuba. This led to
loosening long-standing restrictions on trade between the U.S. and Cuba,
including those that have barred American citizens from traveling to the
New regulations from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets
Control (OFAC) allowed for expanded travel in the 12 existing categories
of travel to Cuba authorized under current law, and gave travel
providers the ability to book authorized travel to Cuba without the need
for an OFAC license.
The Department of Transportation later authorized eight U.S. airlines to
launch service between the U.S. and Cuba.
Specifically, ASTA's letter asks the Trump administration to retain
current OFAC regulations on Cuba. The association also reiterated its
call for enactment of The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act which would
repeal all provisions of law relating to Americans ability to travel to
Eben Peck, ASTA's senior vice president of government and industry
affairs, said yesterday that, "ASTA has long believed that allowing
Americans to travel across the globe without restriction enables them to
act as ambassadors of freedom.
"We pledge to do all we can in conjunction with the new Administration,
Congress and key allies to ensure that Americans are free to travel to
Cuba without constraint from their own government."A
And while the letter to Pence outlines ASTA's stand on other "critical
policy issues"—including Department of Labor overtime rules, customer
service standards for travel agents, and the Visa Waiver Program—Cuba is
a particular concern, said Erika Richter, ASTA director of communications.
Any reversal of regulations easing travel to Cuba will be a complex
matter because, "It's much more complicated than simply reversing the
executive orders," Richter said.
"The changes under the Obama Administration have led to new business
licensing and new commercial flights, along with the corresponding
regulatory improvements led by various government agencies," she added.
"The repercussions are simply much bigger than preventing tourism."
Cuba will be a major issue at ASTA's inaugural Capitol Summit, slated
for June 4 to 7 in Washington D.C., said Richter
The event's predecessor is ASTA's annual Legislative Day which brought
agents to Washington D.C. to meet with legislators and advocate for
travel agent and industry issues.
The new Capitol Summit combines Legislative Day with ASTA's Premium
Business Summit, Corporate Advisory Council (CAC), ASTA Board of
Directors, and ASTA Chapter Presidents Council.
Last year's Legislative Day drew 55 agents, said Richter. Attendance at
the Capitol Summit is expected to be twice that.
Source: ASTA Urges Trump Administration to Keep Cuba Open For Travel |