Caribbean Senator urges rule changes so U.S. hotels can operate in Cuba By Richard Lardner, Associated Press / March 08, 2016 Share 1 -- U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on Tuesday published an open letter to Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew urging the federal government to amend regulations to legally allow for U.S. hotel operators to build hotels in Cuba.“As diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba continue to progress, there are increasing opportunities to do business and improve economic opportunities and the quality of life in Cuba,” Klobuchar wrote. “I strongly believe that continuing to isolate Cuba will be contrary to our interests and disadvantage American businesses and farmers. Removing regulatory barriers and ensuring that the U.S. hospitality industry has a fair shot in Cuba is another way that we can continue to make progress towards officially ending the embargo."Klobuchar is pushing for the federal government to allow the U.S. lodging sector to capitalize on the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Last month, the U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement that will enable the reestablishment of direct commercial flights between the two countries for the first time in more than five decades. U.S. airlines have filed their applications to the Department of Transportation.Lodging exposure among U.S. companies has been limited to peer-to-peer accommodations service Airbnb, which last spring started allowing Cubans to list their properties. Airbnb has more than 2,000 Cuba properties on its site.Among international hotel companies, Spain-based Melia Hotels International has 28 hotels in Cuba. Paris-based AccorHotels has two.