What changes to US-Cuba relations means for US travellers

Havana, Cuba (Kamira / Shutterstock.com)

Havana, Cuba (Kamira / Shutterstock.com)


, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

News that the US and Cuba are moving towards thawing diplomatic relations and lifting a 50-year-old trade embargo has major implications for the travel industry and is poised to open the door to a Caribbean destination that's been off limits for half a century.

And while American globetrotters keen to explore new, uncharted territory may be rejoicing at the historic development, the rest of the Caribbean is likely a little weary.

After decades of receiving US tourists at the exclusion of Cuba, lifted travel restrictions would poach US tourists -- and US dollars -- away from popular hotspots like Jamaica and the Bahamas.

While travellers will have to apply for general licenses to visit the island country, experts point out that most US tourists will be able to fall under "educational activities" and "support for the Cuban people."

If President Barack Obama's proposal is approved, here's what the plan would mean for US travellers.

General licenses will be made available for travellers in 12 categories:

- Family visits
- Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
- Journalistic activity
- Professional research and professional meetings
- Educational activities
- Religious activities
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions
- Support for the Cuban people
- Humanitarian projects
- Activities of private foundations, research, or educational institutions
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information materials
- Certain export transactions that may be considered for authorization under existing regulations and guidelines

Licensed US travellers to Cuba will be authorized to import $400 worth of goods from Cuba, including Cuban cigars and alcohol.

US visitors will be able use their American credit and debit cards.