Photo by Brian Jewell
Published April 01, 2014
Cuba shot into the American tourism market in recent years after the Obama administration reinstated a provision allowing specially licensed tour companies to operate “people to people” trips to Cuba. But the Cuban government announced this winter that it would suspend visa service to Americans after the country’s longtime consular banking service provider decided to end the business relationship.
The Cuba travel update may not be as dire as it sounds, though. Tom Popper, president of tour operator Insight Cuba, said he is optimistic that the banking issue won’t create long-term disruption in American travel to Cuba.
“We knew this was coming, and we’ve been on top of this situation,” he said. “As of right now, we don’t anticipate that it’s going to have any impact on travel at all. Most of us [companies operating tours to Cuba] took precautionary measures to make sure that we had visas for our traveling passengers for the foreseeable future.”
Although the United States doesn’t have an official embassy in Cuba, Popper said the State Department and the Cuban government are working through back channels to find a fix for the banking problem.
“It’s absolutely in everyone’s best interest to find a solution to the banking situation,” he said. “It has far greater implications than travel visas. We could have good news any day. Hopefully, the story will extinguish itself.”