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  • Travel to Cuba has steadily increased since President Obama

    Travel to Cuba has steadily increased since President Obama's policy removed the ban on travel to the tropical island. | Photo: Reuters

Published 15 June 2017

Trump has threatened to tighten trade opportunities for U.S. businesses in Cuba.

The doors of opportunity opened by President Barak Obama in 2015 which made travel to Cuba possible may swing shut as Trump is expected to reinstate trade regulations that will inhibit the growing flow of tourism from the United States.

Cuban-Americans Favor Dropping Blockade, Normalizing US-Cuba Ties: Poll

In January of 2015, Obama requested Congress to lift a number of trade restrictions which had been instated at the start of the U.S. blockade on the Caribbean island.

By 2016, Obama had ended certain restrictions on imports from Cuba, namely the US$100 limit on cigars and rum, two of the country’s main exports, as well as eased the travel ban which prohibited Americans from visiting the island.

Since then, travel to Cuba has steadily increased as Cuban-Americans and others who travel to Cuba. By January this year, tourism saw an increase of 145 percent, closing in on 2016’s benchmark of 284,937 by May of this year.

However, these numbers still fall short of U.S. Airlines’ expectations, who invested liberally following the promise of potential profits.

Additionally, although the former president lowered the restrictions on travel, U.S. citizens are required to declare the reason for travels under one of 12 sections and tourism is not listed. U.S. citizens may only visit Cuba if their activities pertain to government affairs, journalism, research, education, religious or humanity projects, family, or business. However, many claim there is almost no enforcement of the tourism ban.

Cuba Slams US Blockade Days Before Trump Expected to Roll Back Normalization of Ties

The Trump administration has promised to reinstate the regulations, citing "human rights" concerns.

“We would love to keep the sunny side, we’d love to keep it in compliance with existing statutes that doesn’t lead to financial support for what we can only describe continues to be a very oppressive regime,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated in a Foreign Relations Committee Tuesday.

President Donald Trump is planning to make good on his campaign promise and travels to Miami Friday to announce his intentions to reverse the changes to Barack Obama’s Cuba policy, by setting guidelines for business, severely handicapping their trading endeavors.

“I am confident the president will keep his commitment on Cuba policy by making changes that are targeted and strategic and which advance the Cuban people’s aspirations for economic and political liberty,” Florida Senator Marco Rubio said in a statement.

Yuri Barroso , a business promotions expert in Cuba, told Reuters that if the country were to lose its support from U.S. tourists, it would cause serious financial "pain for many Cubans."

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