Travel industry sticking with trips to Cuba from US

MIAMI (AP) — Tour companies, airlines, cruises and others in the travel industry say they will continue taking Americans to Cuba despite a dramatic safety warning issued Friday by the U.S. State Department.

“We continue to believe that Cuba is a safe destination for our travelers, and we will be running our tours until our assessment changes,” said Greg Geronemus, CEO of SmarTours. “There has long been significant political tension between the U.S. and Cuban governments, but the experience that our travelers have had on the ground with the Cuban people has been nothing short of amazing. We have no reason to expect that these experiences will not continue.”

Travel providers point out that there are no reports of American travelers having been harmed by the mysterious sonic attacks against U.S. diplomats and other officials, and that travel to Cuba by Americans remains legal under existing regulations.

Collin Laverty of Cuba Educational Travel noted that the U.S. State Department has issued numerous alerts and advisories against travel by Americans to places like Mexico and Europe because of crime, terrorism and other dangers. In contrast, in Cuba, “they have no evidence to indicate that U.S. travelers at risk during their visits to Cuba.” He also called the warning “absolutely unnecessary and counterproductive.”

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The Trump Administration said earlier this year that it planned to issue new rules limiting travel by Americans to Cuba but it has not yet done so.

U.S. airlines continue to offer regular flights to Cuba, cruises continue to make stops there, Airbnb has a thriving rental business in Cuba and tour companies are still offering trips.

American Airlines is among a number of carriers declining to refund or waive change fees for Cuba flights despite the warning Friday. Travelers with tickets to Cuba are being treated like any travelers wishing…

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