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U.S. Tour Company's Cuba Tours suspended over licence issue

  • 13-Aug-11 10:34
  • Cuba
  • The Miami Herald

A travel company that was recently given permission to provide American travellers with "people-to-people" Cuba holidays has had its tours suspended by the US Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Controls due to licensing problems.

U.S. Tour Company's Cuba Tours suspended over licence issue

The travel firm Abercrombie and Kent is unable to provide Cuba holidays for American travellers after its tours were suspended due to licensing problems.

The travel company was one of the first to be given permission earlier this year by a new Obama administration policy to provide U.S. tourists with “people-to-people” holidays to Cuba. Cuba tours by Abercrombie and Kent were suspended after questions were raised about the licence that allows “people-to-people” Cuba travel for American holidaymakers.

According to U.S newspaper, the Miami Herald, Abercrombie and Kent sold out 13 tours that were organised in partnership with the Foundation for Caribbean Studies, who had obtained a licence from the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) to offer holidays in Cuba to non-Cuban Americans.

However, the OFAC raised issues with the arrangement between Abercrombie and Kent and the Foundation for Caribbean Studies and in a statement issued last month, the department said that company has “suspended all Cuba-related travel bookings until it can ensure it is fully compliant with this new guidance.”

The statement added that companies that do not have a licence to organise Cuba holidays are not permitted to use another firm’s licence. In January this year, U.S President Barack Obama eased restrictions on Cuba travel for American citizens who visit the Caribbean island for educational, religious, professional, academic and cultural purposes.

The change in law allows American residents to travel to Cuba, some for the first time, providing they are part of an organisation or book their trip through a licensed travel operator.

In 2009, President Obama changed the law so that Cuban-Americans were free to travel to their homeland as often as they wanted, after decades of tight restrictions under former Presidents’ administrations.

Cuba is a Caribbean island situated south of the United States and east of Mexico. The beautiful island boast miles of coastline including sandy beaches and thriving coral reefs. The island’s capital city, Havana, is rich in history and culture, while the beach resort of Varadero is a popular spot for international tourists seeking sun and luxury hotel stays.

The relaxed restrictions are expected to result in an influx of American tourists visiting the island over the next few months and tourism officials are predicting that Cuba will become the next leading tourist destination in the Caribbean.

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