An ominous U. S. Condition Department warning against visiting Cuba and a U. S. -mandated cutback in the consular officers who concern visas at the Cuban Embassy within Washington could put the chill upon some U. S. travel to the particular island but not as much as might be anticipated.
One cause is that tour operators, airlines plus cruise lines make bulk purchases from the tourist visas that many Americans have to travel to the island and have sufficient in hand to allow eligible U. S i9000. travelers to visit Cuba for the near future. Cuban Americans who have up-to-date Cuban passports also can still travel.
“ We all generally buy 1, 000 or even 2, 000 visas at a time in the Cuban consulate. There are a lot of visas on the market, ” said Collin Laverty, leader of Cuban Educational Travel, which usually arranges trips to Cuba.
After the Usa ordered 15 Cuban diplomats in the Cuban Embassy in Washington in order to leave the country on Tuesday, just one Cuban employee — Consul Common Alejandro Padró n Corral — was left in the consular area.
The charge issued a statement Friday saying despite the “ arbitrary and unprovoked decision” to expel its workers, its consular section would always offer “ all service uninterruptedly. ” But it apologized in advance regarding delays in processing paperwork plus pinned the blame on the Usa States’ “ unacceptable” decision.
U. S. tourists who only need tourist visas just for people-to-people travel and some other entitled travel categories can generally obtain their visas at the airport or even seaport prior to departure if not just before from their travel providers. They don’ t require any advance authorization by the Cuban government.
But those who need specific visas, such as journalists, business professionals with official agendas, those performing professional research, and students signed up for semester-long academic programs in Cuba, may have to await longer for their visas to be approved.
Cuban Americans born in Cuba who want to travel also must have a present Cuban passport. It needs to be restored every four years and should be revalidated every two years. Those needing passports and renewals and other documents from the Cuban consulate also may encounter delays.
“ We spoke with the Cuban consul… and he told us everything would be the same but things are going to be sluggish, ” said Yanni Toledo, journey service manager at Airline Agents, which sells airline tickets and other Cuba travel services. Toledo said the girl just bought 500 more visas from the consulate at a cost of fifty dollars each.
Air travel Brokers sells the visas intended for $75 each. Some other travel companies offer them at cost or even charge up to $100.
The expulsions from the Cuban Embassy followed a U. S i9000. decision to withdraw 60 % of the personnel at its charge in Havana because it said Cuba was unable to ensure the protection of its diplomats on the island.
Twenty-two embassy workers have suffered from various health problems, which includes hearing loss, dizziness and intellectual issues, over the past several months. The accidents, the United States says, resulted from episodes of an unknown nature. While it doesn’ t hold Cuba responsible for the particular attacks, it says Havana is in charge of ensuring the safety of its diplomats while they are in Cuba.
“ It’ ersus a very strange rabbit hole we’ ve gone down, ” said Pedro Freyre, who is chairman of the global practice at the Akerman law firm. “ This is one of the must puzzling items I’ ve ever come up towards as long as I’ ve been associated with Cuba. ”
Freyre often travels to Cuba with clients from cruise lines as well as other companies that do or are interested within doing business in Cuba. While this individual said business visas may be postponed because of the cutbacks in personnel on the embassy, “ clients who are devoted to Cuba are still committed to Cuba. They may be playing the long view. They will believe this is a serious situation however they hope it can be resolved. ”
He said presently there also may be ways for Cubans to get around the potential processing gaps for business visas. Sometimes, Freyre said, he and his clients are usually asked to travel on a visa volante (flying visa) that is issued within Havana and is waiting at the airport terminal upon their arrival. To get to Cuba in that case, he travels on his Cuban passport and clients travel upon tourist visas until they pick-up the proper volante visa at the airport.
Even though there are simply no confirmed reports thus far of any kind of private U. S. visitors previously being affected by the mysterious health occurrences, the State Department took the uncommon step of issuing a take a trip warning against visiting Cuba stating: “ We believe U. H. citizens may also be at risk and alert them not to travel to Cuba. Episodes have occurred in U. H. diplomatic residences and hotels visited by U. S. citizens. ”
The State Section said it had received a few reports following the travel warning through American citizens saying they had experienced signs and symptoms similar to those affecting embassy employees, but a State Department official informed the Associated Press the Oughout. S. government has “ absolutely no way of verifying” those reports.
The travel caution has created plenty of confusion and led to some cancellations of planned excursions to Cuba, but RESPECT (Responsible Ethical Cuba Travel), an association associated with 150 travel agencies, tour workers and others who provide travel solutions to Cuba, says the caution is unjustified and its members are usually continuing to organize trips to Cuba.
“ This really is just not a question of travelers’ basic safety, ” said Bob Guild, co-coordinator of RESPECT and vice chief executive of Marazul Charters, which sets up group tours and individual visit Cuba. He said so far this season there have been 500, 000 U. S i9000. visitors to Cuba, including Cuban People in america. “ None of them, to the best of the knowledge, has experienced similar medical issues. The State Department warning is a politics warning, not a health warning. ”
He stated no other country has issued this type of travel warning for Cuba possibly.
But Guild said that Marazul has experienced several group and individual cancellations. “ It hasn’ t been that lots of yet, but it will depend on how this particular plays out, ” he stated.
“ There exists a huge confusion in the American marketplace now, ” said Michael Goren, chief executive of BeyondCruises by Team IST. Its customers fly in order to Havana or Cienfuegos and then consider mega yacht tours around the tropical isle. Even though he said there is no reason behind Americans to stop traveling to Cuba, the business might have to cancel two or three of the 4 yachts it was planning to operate within Cuba. “ There are no reservations; that market is freezing, ” Goren said.
There are simply no bookings; that market is abnormally cold.
Erina Goren, Group IST
“ Lots of Americans are first-time travelers in order to Cuba and they’ re a little apprehensive to begin with, and some of them possess tended to panic over the journey warning, ” said Michael Zuccato, general manager of Cuba Traveling Services.
This individual said CTS has been getting a large amount of calls from potential travelers worried about their safety. The company tries to assure them that they can continue to travel to Cuba, Zuccato said. A travel caution is a “ very serious thing, ” he said, but if the intent would be to protect American travelers, “ perhaps you should tell us the names of the hotels [where the State Department said some of the attacks occurred] so we can take correct safeguards for our customers? ”
The Ohio Herald requested the names of the resorts, but the State Department didn’ to provide them.
Carnival Corp. also is obtaining inquiries about its Cuban itineraries — but it’ s a lot more along the lines of whether their Cuba cruise trips are going to go out as planned plus whether their visas will be recognized for their arrival and return, mentioned Roger Frizzell, a Carnival Corp. spokesman. All Cuba cruises will certainly continue as planned, he mentioned.
Carnival delivered this message to cruisers: “ Please be advised that your visa pertaining to travel to Cuba is valid, plus there are no issues with your go back to the U. S. The State Section advisory does not prohibit Americans through traveling to Cuba. ”
El Nuevo Herald staff writer Nora Gá mez Torres contributed to this record.