Elderly, Physically-Impaired Americans Can Still Travel to Cuba
Over a week ago, the Trump administration eliminated people-to-people exchanges and cruises to Cuba leaving many travelers disappointed and the tourism industry enraged. Yet, there seemed to be a bit of hope for travelers interested in visiting the island long closed to tourism until President Obama enacted legislation to open it before the current administration’s recent decisions.
It’s called “Support for the Cuban People,” a travel category that allows individual travelers to visit Cuba under the conditions that their travel supports the local Cuban people such as by eating at privately-Cuban-owned restaurants or shopping at privately-owned stores run by local Cubans. This category has many stipulations, but the accommodation stipulation caused travel agents and travelers to pause.
“Support for the Cuban People” notes that travelers must stay in “casa particulares” or private Cuban residences. While casa particulares are fine for most individual travelers, when you consider that many are not accessible to people with disabilities or the elderly, as they lack elevators or the necessary space to accommodate these travelers, many were concerned that the decision to end People-to-People travel and cruises to Cuba, would prevent the elderly and disabled from visiting the country, thereby violating their rights.
Thankfully, there is good news.
The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has clarified that hotel stays are acceptable for “Support for the Cuban People” trips. The regulations surrounding the “Support for the Cuban People” category didn’t mention anything about hotel stays, and due to many questions by travel agents and tour operators, OFAC wanted to make it clear that hotels are available for travelers to use.
On June 7, 2019, CubaTrade.org reported OFAC as saying, “Assuming that the person traveling to Cuba is doing so in accordance with all of the various requirements of the general license found in section 515.574 (Support for the Cuban People) of the CACR, the terms of this general license do not prohibit travelers from staying in hotels, so long as the traveler’s stay in a hotel does not involve any transactions prohibited by 515.209 of the CACR.”
With this in mind, elderly travelers and travelers with disabilities have the ability to book a stay in hotels like Hotel Nacional de Cuba, Havana, that have accessible rooms, as long as the hotel doesn’t appear on the Cuba Restricted List.
The Cuba Restricted List details “entities and subentities under the control of, or acting for or on behalf of, the Cuban military, intelligence, or security services or personnel with which direct financial transactions would disproportionately benefit such services or personnel at the expense of the Cuban people or private enterprise in Cuba.”
Hotels on the list include Hotel Ambos Mundos, Iberostar Grand Packard Hotel, Hotel San Miguel, Memories Miramar Havana, among many others.
Source: Travel Pulse