Insight Caribbean Insight The potential for changes to Cuba travel policy By Gay Nagle Myers / June 13, 2017 Share 1 -- Bring up the subject of travel to Cuba, and it's sure to spark comment. No surprise there, given that there are opposing views that range from the possibility of the Trump administration reinstating travel limits (more details could come later this week) to a Senate bill that would end all travel restrictions.Trump allegedly wants to unwind some of the changes negotiated during the last two years of the Obama administration that has seen the door swing open to more liberal travel and trade policies and to an overall thaw in relations between the two countries.Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of 54 senators reintroduced the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act on May 25 that called for an end to all restrictions on travel to Cuba."Recognizing the inherent right of Americans to travel to Cuba isn't a concession to dictators, it is an expression of freedom," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., one of the co-sponsors of the bill. "It is Americans who are penalized by our travel ban, not the Cuban government."Engage Cuba, a public policy group created two years ago to push for an end to the 1962 trade embargo with Cuba, recently spelled out the cost to the U.S. travel industry if Cuba travel is curbed: Reversing the reforms and rolling back expanded travel enacted by the Obama administration would cost U.S. airlines and cruise lines more than $3.5 billion and affect up to 10,154 jobs during Trump's first term, according to James Williams, president of Engage Cuba.The economic impact analysis study was conducted in collaboration with a number of organizations and businesses, including ASTA, Cuba Educational Travel, Pearl Sea Cruises and the United States-Cuba Business Council."I doubt that Trump will take us back to the bad old days of no legal travel to Cuba, and if he tightens the rules again, most likely the biggest impact will be felt by the individual travel sector that has grown exponentially, thanks to scheduled flights and self-licensing," said Peggy Goldman, founder and president of Friendly Planet Travel, which has offered people-to-people tours to Cuba since 2011.Goldman opined that travelers on tours through operators such as Friendly Planet would probably still be able to travel as before by purchasing all-inclusive packages and following a set itinerary.However, she cautioned that "business will definitely drop, and there will be plenty of impact on multiple sectors.By tightening the rules, Trump will directly harm all those individual entrepreneurs in Cuba who are renting casa particulares [rooms in private homes], opening paladars [private restaurants] and generally benefitting from American visitors. And that's in addition to all of us on the U.S. side of the travel industry."But Goldman also said that tour companies that have followed the rules by operating great programs to Cuba, "will always find interested travelers, as long as the door stays open, even if it is only a crack. I don't believe that that door will be locked again, not even by Trump."