Thursday, June 22, 2017

Trump renews some restrictions on travel to Cuba—just the ones that hurt his hotel competitors (mark Sumner) · Friday, June 16, 2017, 3:52 pm

In a speech marked by Cold War rhetoric and Donald Trump mimicking a Cuban accent, Trump re-imposed travel restrictions that President Obama softened a year ago. Though Trump initially said he was going to “cancel” Obama’s policy on Cuba, his speech was actually much more fiery than the policy he delivered. Much of what Trump actually altered was symbolic, with a greater impact on American companies than on Cuba. Much of the significant changes were aimed at tourism, a target that has some definite losers other than the Cuban people.

The proposed changes in US-Cuba relations that President Donald Trump will unveil Friday in Miami could adversely impact hotel brands that directly compete with Trump's business empire, making it more difficult for them expand their foothold in Cuba.

Surely a coincidence. The regulations would restrict tourists traveling outside of groups, person to person deals, and travel arranged through the state-owned GAESA agency.

The decision to prohibit business with GAESA to direct tourists to private companies and AirBnB is an example of Trump's ability to impact his business' competitors while in the White House. Trump's prohibition, in effect, puts other hotel companies on equal footing with his personal company -- not allowed to pursue future business in Cuba.

Under these policies, it will simply be harder for tourists to visit Cuba.

Trump will surely take credit for “fulfilling a campaign promise,” but his revisions leave much of Obama’s changes, including a US embassy in Havana, intact. He took just enough steps to claim to have taken action, and made just enough of a speech to attack Obama for “reaching out” to the Cuban regime.


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