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Flying to Cuba? 4 Things to Keep in Mind (amidst regulation changes)

Travel to Cuba
Aeropuerto Internacional Jose Martí, La Habana, Cuba. By Horacio Fernandez

Recent news on Cuba travel has raised questions, as the former U.S. administration began relaxing travel restrictions last year, and the new administration is again tightening them. While flying to Cuba via private aircraft offers great advantages to experiencing the island country, regulations, visas and logistics can be confusing. To ensure traveler compliance, Cuba Handling facilitates aircraft permits, visas and bespoke, luxury itineraries.

Commercial airlines and private aircraft can now fly directly to various cities in Cuba, but Americans may not engage in pure tourism, under the modified terms of the 50-year-old embargo, still in effect.

Eric Norber, a Cuba travel specialist, has for the past 27 years owned and operated companies that create specialty travel packages to the island; in 2015 he expanded his business to accommodate private flights with the launch of Cuba Handling. Norber focuses on private aircraft to Cuba providing unique itineraries for exclusive and personalized Cuban experiences; he is listed as a resource on the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) Caribbean Destinations page and regularly presents at National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA) conferences on Cuba travel.

“While changes have been made to the current travel policy, the embargo is still in effect and non-compliance can be costly if American travelers are not aware and appropriately guided,” says Norber, “I formed my companies, which have been licensed for over 27 years, in an effort to share the culture and beauty of Cuba with my clients. We ensure all travel is legal, and that the experiences in Cuba are authentic.”

Norber was in Cuba when President Trump announced proposed changes to the regulations, which will be written by the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) a division of the U.S. Treasury. Cuba Handling published an analysis of the proposed changes on its website, http://www.cubahandling.com, and offers the following summary to clarify questions:

  • The primary objective of the proposed changes is to limit financial transactions between U.S. travelers and the Cuban military.
  • Individually licensed travel will no longer be permitted. Licensed group travel, under the direction of a sponsoring organization and pursuant to one of 12 defined categories (including People-to-People Educational Exchange), will be permitted.
  • Travelers to Cuba will be required to have a representative of the company that organized their travel, accompany them while in Cuba. This is to ensure itineraries are compliant, and include a full-time schedule of authorized activities.
  • Itineraries may not include content prohibited by OFAC regulations.

“Cuba Handling has everything: the license, staff, experience and understanding of governmental regulations, enabling us to create memorable, exciting and legal travel,” says Norber. “I fell in love with the culture of Cuba when I first visited in 1990 and I continue to share my passion for Cuba with each of our clients.”

Watch | Cuba: Life Beyond The Embargo

Also a professional corporate jet pilot, Norber has organized thousands of private trips to Cuba for celebrities, media and high profile clients; trips have focused on history, cuisine, arts, music, theater, sports, religion and yoga, among other topics.

Cuba Handling offers the convenience of pre-paying for all services, avoiding cash payments upon arrival where U.S. money is subject to a 13% exchange rate and credit cards are generally not accepted. Cuba Handling facilitates all arrangements: visas, customized luxury itineraries and pre-trip briefings, ensuring easy, enjoyable, worry-free travel.

SOURCE Cuba Handling; website: www.cubahandling.com

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