Casa particular owners beyond Havana have been dealt another blow by the Trump administration. After the renewal of direct US-Cuba flights a little over 3 years ago, the Trump administration puts a new dampener on Cuba’s tourism industry by now banning all direct flights to Cuban cities other than Havana.
Trump has dealt yet another blow to casa particular owners, this time to those located outside Havana, just months after he had announced a new wave of restrictions on Cuba travel for U.S. citizens and residents.
In June this year, Trump’s administration had announced the scrapping of some educational, cultural and recreational tours to Cuba, banned Cuba cruises and reduced the list of allowed purposes of travel. Even when the measures were to some extent more cosmetic than anything else (Americans could still travel to Cuba independently but there were restrictions on where they could stay and eat, with a list of banned hotels and establishments published by the U.S. Treasury Department), this new move is seeking to curtail travel to Cuba in a more drastic and damaging way (especially for the Cuban entrepreneurs – like casa particular owners – who the U.S. president allegedly – and ironically – wants to support).
Now, to put even more pressure on the Cuban government in a hope it rescinds its support to Maduro’s Venezuela (it won’t happen and they know it, just like the U.S. embargo and other countless political and economic measures against Cuba have failed at swaying the Cuban government one way or the other) the Trump administration says all direct US flights to Cuba are to be suspended starting December 2019, all except those flying in to Havana. This means that U.S. airlines flying to Cuba have 45 days to review this decision and cease all operations to Cuban routes other than those calling at Havana.
Even when the majority of U.S.-Cuba flights land in Havana, the new move means the cancellation of more than 20 Cuba-bound regular weekly flights.
The new measure hurts Cuban Americans and average Cubans the most (and not as much the Cuban government which is the supposed target of the U.S. administration). Flights to cities other than Havana carried a majority of Cuban Americans visiting family in more remote places of Cuba that are harder to reach by other means of transport from Havana in a country with well-known, significant transport problems. It also hurts the private tourism sector, especially casas particulares in places lacking in variety and quality of hotels.
The renewal of direct U.S.-Cuba flights back in September 2016 was a history-making moment led by JetBlue with
their inaugural flight between Fort Lauderdale and Santa Clara. Back then, with Obama still in office, the U.S. Treasury Department had approved licenses for six American airlines who all jumped at the chance of taking a slice of the Cuban pie. Of the initial six, some subsequently dropped their routes and giants like JetBlue and American Airlines fought to take their slots. The result was better and lower-priced connections between Cuba and the U.S. and thousands of happy travellers, both Cuban American and curious visitors. It broke the monopoly of expensive charter airlines (who, according to Trump, won’t be affected by the new travel restrictions, so the market will go back to being an unfairer place).
The remaining American airlines still operating regular flights to cities like Santiago de Cuba, Santa Clara, Camaguey and Varadero are American Airlines JetBlue and Delta. It all means that casas particulares in Varadero, Santiago, Holguin or Santa Clara will welcome their last direct inbound U.S. guests this December. If you want to be one of the last one to makes the last direct routes to these Cuban cities from the U.S. now is the time to book your Cuba trip and check next to the “Support for the Cuban People” box by staying in one of our many casas particulares throughout Cuba – check our Cuba map and see where your heart takes you!