Americans in Cuba sent beachside to make room for President Obama

Posted: 12-Mar-16 16:01

While current U.S. law prevents Americans from visiting Cuban beaches, many travelers are about to be moved closer to the shore and the sand, all in the name of politics. American visitors are being cleared out of some Havana hotels in preparation for a visit from President Obama and his entourage later this month.

Americans in Cuba sent beachside to make room for President Obama

American travellers to Cuba are about to be sent surprisingly close to an area they are forbidden to travel to. Technically, Americans are not allowed to visit Cuban beaches, but that is exactly where many are about to be sent to make room for the nation’s top political leader.

President Obama is scheduled to make a visit to the island nation on 21st and 22nd March, a historic visit that comes about 15 months after the two countries began to work on easing diplomatic relations.

A majority of U.S. visitors, limited by travel restrictions, concentrate in Havana. However, the city does not have an excess of hotel rooms and March is commonly one of the busiest month for tourists to travel to Cuba.

This is why in preparation for the impending presidential visit, Reuters reports that many Havana hotels are starting to clear out travellers. A U.S. travel company, who did not wish to be identified for fear of damaging business relationships, tells Reuters this is happening to visitors who have already booked rooms at some of Havana’s major hotels.

In an email the head of Reuters in Havana wrote:

“Just got notice that the Capri, Panorama, Nacional, half of Parque Central and potentially other hotels have been told to send all guests to Varadero from the 19th to 23rd of March.”

Others also confirmed to Reuters that U.S. travel groups are being sent to Varadero, about an hour east of Havana and a major destination for tourism. The area includes a number of hotels, as well as white sand beaches.

While Americans can currently visit Cuba for reasons including culture and education, they cannot travel to the country expressly for tourism. According to what Cuban Educational Travel President Collin Laverty affirmed to Reuters, however, Americans are being sent directly to a top tourist destination.

“Tourism will be hard to avoid for a few days as U.S. visitors are surrounded by white sand, turquoise water and all you can eat and drink bars and buffets, but we will try.”

While President Obama eased half-a-century old travel restrictions to Cuba in late 2014, only Congress has the authority to lift the ban on American tourism to the country (part of the economic embargo imposed on the island in the early 60s). Even so, the number of Americans to Cuba was 161,000 in 2015, marking a 77 percent increase, and the country is expected to welcome an even larger number of American travellers in 2016.


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