For even more, check out this newspaper article about Viva Cuba published June 7, 2019
In June 2019, President Trump tightened the embargo and increased limitations on U.S. – Cuban relations. Remittances to Cuba could not exceed $1,000 a month (often sent between family members). Educational People-to-People visas were no longer issued. Regardless, Viva Cuba was prepared and we had shifted our business model in advance so our guests travel under the “Support for the Cuban People” visa.
The intention behind these changes was to limit the amount of money the ended up in the hands of the communist regime. For example, hotels in Cuba are minimally 51% owned by the Cuban government, as are many state-run restaurants. Tourist companies taking a group of 50 travelers need to stay in hotels, yet boutique companies like ours can provide a more intimate experience.
After Viva Cuba’s first year running tours in Cuba we abandoned staying at hotels. We quickly discovered that they are often lacking adequate maintenance and the staff is underpaid, resulting in often unmotivated employees. In contrast, we discovered casa particulares (Cuban Bed & Breakfasts). Cuban entrepreneurs will build on rooms and bathrooms, or renovate their houses, in order to provide lodging for travelers. The pride of ownership can be seen everywhere and the Cuban hospitality makes our trips special.
Additionally, eating in paladares (privately-owned restaurants), having a Cuban guide with us to take us to the special spots in each town, and having a full itinerary of activities that engage us with Cubans from all walks of life makes our tours unique. Join us!