A Letter from Frontiers President, Mike Fitzgerald
Many of our U.S. customers have contacted our company about fishing travel to Cuba. As the entire angling community knows, President Barrack Obama announced a set of diplomatic and economic changes to chart a new course in U.S. relations with Cuba, and to further engage and empower the Cuban people. These measures will facilitate travel to Cuba for authorized purposes.
We have been watching Cuba for many years. Frontiers has certainly done our due diligence prior to these announcements and since these regulations have eased. We have spoken directly to the U.S. Department of the Treasury and to its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), we had discussions with other U.S. and international booking agents, had meetings with current outfitters in Cuba, and have spoken at length to international operators considering the country to better develop the fishing programs in Cuba.
We want to state emphatically that even with the changes implemented by the U.S. Government; general tourism to Cuba is still prohibited. OFAC has issued a warning to U.S. citizens and businesses that clearly states:
“TOUR PACKAGES FOR SCUBA DIVING, BICYCLING, HUNTING, FISHING, HIKING OR OTHER TOURIST TRAVEL IN CUBA ARE ILLEGAL.”
There are now 12 existing categories of approved travel, previously authorized by specific license which now will be authorized by general license, subject to appropriate conditions. This means that individuals who meet the conditions laid out in the regulations will not need to apply for a license to travel to Cuba.
These categories include:
- 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 or research or educational institutes
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information or information material
- Certain authorized export transactions
A few points we want to make to our clients:
- We are encouraged that the doors to Cuba have been opened somewhat, but as a large travel company, we are adhering to the regulations and rules clearly established by the U.S. Government.
- In terms of infrastructure in Cuba, a lot of work needs to be done on many fronts, from airline access to hotel room availability to reliable transportation and roads to U.S. banking and credit card acceptance. This is going to take time.
- Please remember that these flats resources have been fished regularly by international visitors for a number of years. Cuba is not an untouched, undiscovered fishery. Having said this, many of the better shallow water saltwater areas are protected from commercial netting and the number of guides per region is regulated. If / when Cuba fully opens for full US tourism, these resources should remain a very viable option for flats fishing enthusiasts.
- Bonefish & Tarpon Trust does have a research license to grant special permission to anglers, and it is possible to book an authorized escorted departure in conjunction with this organization. These trips are not operated regularly and there are clear guidelines as to how they operate, how the research and exchange of information that is required is to take place and how post trip reports are submitted.
- For our Elegant Journeys clients, individual travel to Cuba with private arrangements is not possible at this time (similar to the fishing). If you wish to travel to Cuba as a part of an escorted group, Frontiers can assist and would place your booking with one of our two favorite suppliers (Abercrombie & Kent’s Cuba: People to People and International Expeditions), both of whom operate 100% legal trips under the “People to People” licensing. They offer regular scheduled departures with 6 - 8 night itineraries and include round trip charter flights from Florida.
If you have any questions about Cuba or if you need clarification on any of the rules and policies, please give us a call at 1-800-245-1950 or email at email@example.com, and we will do our very best to direct you accordingly.