Cuba is now in the spotlight after rapper Jay-Z surprised his wife Beyonce with a trip, which he then summarized in a recent rap, “Open Letter,” which included the lyrics, “I done turned Havana into Atlanta…Boy from the hood, I got White House clearance.”
For years, Cuba was a forbidden country. Then in 2011, changes implemented by the Obama Administration allowed the first group of Americans to travel legally to the country. Travel to Cuba is possible but remains controversial. Learn more about the travel experience with Insight Cuba on Peter’s CBS segment.
Then came the controversy over whether the “people-to-people” licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) were, in fact, true cultural exchanges. That nearly signaled the end of “People-to-People” trips to Cuba as travel providers had difficulty renewing their licenses.
The trouble began from public complaints, including comments from Florida Senator Marco Rubio, that the trips were being used as a cover for outright tourism rather than promoting education and cultural experiences.
However, after months of waiting, several organizations were able to renew their licenses to operate People-to-People trips to the nation that has been under U.S. embargo since 1962.
A People-to-People trip to Cuba isn’t a typical leisure vacation. It requires educational activities, interaction with artists, educators and other locals to be granted a license by OFAC.
Despite the difficulties in obtaining the license, Peggy Goldman, president of Friendly Planet Travel, believes that the Cuban “people-to-people” programs will not only survive the increased scrutiny, but continue to rise in popularity as awareness of the opportunity for legal travel Cuba spreads.
Below is a list of organizations that are offering legal travel to Cuba:
Insight Cuba, 800-450-2822
National Geographic Expeditions, 888-966-8687 (dates pending)
Friendly Planet Travel, 888-555-5765
Smithsonian Journeys, 855-330-1542
National Trust for Historic Preservation, 888-484-8785
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 212-650-2110
Austin-Lehman Adventures, 800-575-1540 (custom trips)
Distant Horizons, 800-333-1240 (dates pending)
For more Cuba travel, check out: