Obama Cuba travel policy caters to America’s ‘well-heeled’ tourists
Last week, we showed you a couple of examples of how Obama's new travel policy regarding the Castro dictatorship, which in essence is nothing more than unilateral concessions to a brutal and murderous regime, has worked out exactly as Cuba's totalitarian government planned and expected. Thanks to the White House's ill-conceived concessions, the regime of Fidel and Raul Castro are reaping windfalls in cash and propaganda.
Unfortunately for the Cuban people, the damage being done by the Obama concessions do not stop there. Today we show you -- just as we warned -- how what was sold as "people-to-people" contacts is in reality a vacation opportunity for America's "well-heeled" tourists. Far from being ambassadors of democracy and freedom, these travelers are only interested in catching a glimpse of the quaint misery suffered by the Cuban people before freedom restores their humanity and takes out all the fun that comes from watching natives struggle to survive:
Travels with Charlie: Loosened rules may make Cuba a travel destination for more Americans
In a scenario that reverses something like "You can't get there from here," Cuba is emerging as the new darling of the well-heeled traveler from the United States.
Despite a longtime ban on travel by U.S. citizens to the communist Caribbean island, there have been ways to sneak there on day trips from other islands. But it certainly was not sanctioned or necessarily safe.
Now, our president and the Treasury and State departments have loosened the restrictions, and some travel agencies are gearing up to send clients on package tours of the island.
They're not cheap and they are quite restrictive.
Abercrombie & Kent has paired with the nonprofit Foundation for Caribbean Studies and will be offering itineraries that include stays at the best hotels in Cuba, natural wonders and historic sites including Ernest Hemingway's former home.
An agency called Insight Cuba was among the first to submit its application for a license after the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued a rule to make it easier to send Americans to Cuba.
Insight Cuba's tours are carefully crafted and feature exclusive experiences for groups up to 16.
Those itineraries include Havana and scenic Pinar del Rio, Havana and Colonial Trinidad, Bay of Pigs and tours that concentrate on music and history.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has given permission for flights to Cuba to originate from international airports in Chicago, Baltimore, Dallas/Fort Worth, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Atlanta and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Some U.S. legislators have expressed their disappointment with President Barack Obama's easing of travel restrictions to Cuba. Some say the policy supports the Cuban government by allowing new money to flow into its treasury.
Officials in the Obama administration say the people-to-people orientation of the restricted travel helps to undermine the communist system.
Tourism does bring in the most foreign currencies to Cuba, with revenues of more than $2.2 billion last year.
Its tourism commission claimed it hosted more than 2.5 million tourists last year, with some 945,000 coming from Canada. Nearly 174,000 visitors came from Great Britain and 112,000 from Italy.
If Cuba is not exotic enough for you, how about the packages that will be offered by Bestway Tours & Safaris?
The Canadian agency is developing tours to Afghanistan. Yes, Afghanistan.