The announcement comes less than two weeks since President Donald Trump announced new restrictions on travel to the island. Americans can no longer go on individual people-to-people trips, and are barred from doing businesses with entities that are owned and controlled by Cuba’s military. Exactly how the policy works will depend regulations that have yet to be released.However, Southwest stressed that the decision to discontinue its Varadero and Santa Clara flights was due to the challenge of stimulating demand in a new market like Cuba, said spokesman Brad Hawkins in a statement.“The decision to discontinue these flights is not tied directly to the recent policy announcement, but follows many months of reviewing our performance in the Varadero and Santa Clara markets,” Hawkins said. “Unfortunately, we do not see a pathway to sustainably serving these markets due primarily to the continuing prohibition in U.S. law on tourism to Cuba by American citizens.”Varadero in particular, a town in the northwestern coast of Cuba, is known for its resorts and pristine beaches — not the cultural, people-to-people experiences in which American travelers are allowed to participate.Under rules established under the Barack Obama administration, Americans are not allowed to travel to Cuba for “tourism” but must travel under one of 12 approved categories of travel that include family visits, educational and religious activities.
Before Castro or communism, Cuba had a highly developed tourism industry. Thousands of visitors went to Cuba to enjoy the beach, or the many historic places like colonial Trinidad, or Havana’s nightlife.
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