The US Government under President Obama has lived up to its election manifesto promise to relax regulations which previously restricted travel between the US and Cuba and limited the transfer of money between both countries.
With immediate effect the US Treasury says that the Cuban-Americans can now visit a wider range of relatives as regularly as they wish and spend up to $180 a day. This represents a significant increase on the previous limit of $50 a day. Previously, visits to Cuba by Cuban-Americans were limited to just one a year.
This is being seen as a hugely significant and historic move which is expected to eventually open the door for an estimated 1.5m Cuban-Americans to travel freely between the two countries – and allow US-based Cuban-Americans to send money home to family members.
Last year saw a record total of 2.5m tourists visit Cuba and the travel and travel retail industries are just two of the many sectors that could benefit strongly from this separate US-Cuban travel liberalisation.
On a wider longer-term platform, the cruise sector is also particularly well positioned to benefit – along with US airports and airlines – although realising this potential and allowing direct travel and flights into Cuba for the rest of the US population is still work in progress for the politicians. However, there is strong optimism that this could happen within the next 18 months to two years.
This limited action of opening up the borders to Cuban-Americans is expected to lead to high levels of travel between the two countries, even if talks on easing some of the commercial sanctions that the US has imposed on Cuba since 1963 may still be some way away.