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cubatravelusa has been a member since May 20th 2014, and has created 75 posts from scratch.

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Travelucion to sign strategic marketing agreements with key Florida Travel Agents

Travelucion Florida Agents

Only 90 miles off the coast of Florida yet seemingly out of reach for most Americans, Cuba just got a whole lot closer.

Travelucion the online Cuba Travel & Media Company will begin offering online media promotion of cuba travel packages from Florida based travel agents across its 432 websites in the coming months. Travelucion has an annual reach of 30 million page views but recently web visitors from the USA shot up from 11% in 2014 to 33.8% in January 2016. The company assumes that increased interest in the United States and constant media reports about Cuba are fuelling the tide of online visitors to its exclusive Cuba web content created since the mid 90s. Travelucion is the world leader in online web content for Cuba, managing websites that are up to two decades old, the series of websites are quite stunning and become increasingly popular with Americans searching on google for information concerning Cuba. But a few of these web properties are listed below:

Cuba Geographic Series – 89 City’s and Towns

Cuba General interest series – 112 websites

Tourism to Cuba remains banned, but travelers who fit into one of 16 categories can visit the country, without a case-by-case approval by the government, as was previously required. These are known as general licenses. Since December, when President Obama announced the new regulations, Cuba tour groups and websites have reported seeing a huge uptick in web traffic and requests related to Cuba.

• Visiting family

• Humanitarian projects or to provide support to the Cuban people

• Official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations

• Journalistic activities

• Professional research

• Educational activities by persons at academic institutions

• People to people travel

• Religious activities

• Public performance, clinics, workshops, athletic or other competitions and exhibitions

• Authorization to provide travel services, carrier services and remittance forwarding services

• Activities of private foundations, research or educational institutes

• Exportation of certain Internet-based services

 

Florida based agents wish to cash in on this new market and have decided to use Travelucion as their main Cuba media outlet. Travelucion will receive an advertising royalty on each package sold under this new online marketing promotion.

American Travel to Cuba 2015

Havana Cuba Travel Americans

Cuba has long been the forbidden fruit for American tourists. Just A 30-minute flight from Florida, it already draws enough people from Canada and Europe to make it the Caribbean’s third-most-popular tourism destination, just trailing behind Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. Cuba gets about 3 million visitors a year—just 90,000 of them from the U.S. but this last figure is set to soar over the coming months with real expectations of over 300,000 American visitors in Cuba for 2015.

With Americans now searching the internet for information concerning Cuba in record numbers we´ve decided to create the Cuba 101 list of best websites and online booking centers.

Where should an American Visit?

Americans Cuba Travel Guide

Obviously Cuba’s capital Havana is a big hit with our fellow Americans but, there are so many colonial cities begging to be discovered. Worldwide Online Digital Media Giant Travelucion released another barrage of free digital Cuba travel guides at the Havana FITUR Travel faire in 2014. These websites are proving to be the Holy Grail for Americans thinking of visiting Cuba and include rare glimpses into Havana’s Capital Building or the infamous Havana Malecon Esplanade. Since 2014 they´ve released the rest of their free virtual Cuba Guide Service totaling no less than 84 Cuban city focused websites, all with interactive booking of everything from Casa Particulares (home stays similar to AirBNB offerings) to flights, Cuba car rental, bus services, hotels, Mobile Phone offices and even dolphin park tickets.

Booking Travel from USA to Cuba directly?

havanatur logo

 

Choosing the right operator is essential and Havanatur has been at the Cuba Travel game for over 20 years. While most of the sales are carried out online, their offices and call centers in Europe and the Americas are a convenient advantage. Booking through their online chat also proved to be painless and quick. Havanatur offers everything, Flights, Hotels, Car Rentals & tours but doesn’t provide information on private businesses like Casas or Paladar Restaurants yet.

Cuban Road trip for Americans?

transtur renta a car Cuba

Many of us are looking for the type of trip to Cuba that includes numerous historic cities and the only viable way to do this is by renting a car in Cuba. You can´t rent an Old American Classic Car for this type of trip because these are only chauffer driven and generally used as taxis but, Cuba’s Transtur Rent A Car offers a myriad of options from SUVs to Luxury BMW & Audi Cars. Once again, due to the low volume of vehicles (for now…) in Cuba, Americans are urged to book in advance if visiting Cuba on four wheels is the plan.

Booking Hotels in Cuba?

hotel saratoga Old havana

If you’re looking for a hotel stay Hotel-Cuba.com is Cuba’s largest room consolidator with over 300 hotels and a further 400 private homes available for instant online reservation. Offering USD payments along with another 26 currencies, the selection and sheer volume of Cuban Hotels available is mind blowing.

Cuban Cultural Information?

cuban culture

Cuba has a unique and quirky culture which can be difficult to get to grip with. Cuban Culture.com and the myriad of linked websites is probably the best starting places for a Cuba newbie. As central point to Cuba’s Tourism Ministry offers, it also acts as an online hub to literally hundreds of websites, official and privately owned covering every feasible aspect of Cuba. Another popular website is WikiCuba.com which is currently linking to AllAboutCuba.com due to its massive overhaul, presumably due to the increased interest in Cuba.

We´ll continue to update this section as and when new websites become available.

How to Travel to Cuba

Havana-Cuba

Havana is just 90 miles from Key West yet; one would think the island is on another continent.

Firstly, if you choose to travel independently, all arrangements must be made through an agent located abroad since Americans are not allowed to transfer money to Cuba. This particular portion of US law has many people confused because many foreign agents are located in Cuba and offer billing for their services outside of Cuba. However, the treasury department is extremely clear in this regard as it considers any agent located in Cuba, whether purportedly foreign managed or not, as a National of Cuba. Therefore, the first thing to check when booking travel with an agent abroad is: Do they have a physical presence in Cuba? Can you find a Cuban address or Cuban phone numbers on their website? Both or either should be a big red flag, since dealing with them could cause serious and irreparable inconvenience and possible fines. Many of these companies, eager to make a buck, will happily bill your travel services through a third country, however, because Cuban banks cannot charge American credit cards anyway, Cuban domiciled agents have to bill through third countries anyway and this is not a viable loophole as far as the US law is concerned because any agent with a physical presence in Cuba is deemed a “National of Cuba” by the US authorities. Simple. Instead, choose an agent with no physical presence in Cuba.

Visiting Cuba in 2014

Visiting the country legally is easier than a few years ago, but the process can still be complicated. There are laws that restrict you to a set itinerary and limit how much you can spend per day. And if you choose to travel independently, as stated above, all arrangements must be made through an agent located abroad since Americans are not allowed to transfer money to Cuba even through intricate payment systems domiciled outside of Cuba (and the US) but pertaining to a company located in Cuba, whether Cuban or foreign controlled.

Visiting on a Group Tour

Group Tour Americans Cuba

Cuba has now resumed the processing of visas, so you can book through a licensed US travel company, such as InsightCuba, GeoEx or Abercrombie & Kent, these companies issue group official visas and are licensed to do so. On these trips, called people-to-people groups, all of the paperwork is done for you. The downside is that while there are numerous trips from which to choose, you will be restricted to that itinerary and will not be free to roam the country on your own.

Travel Independently

American in Cuba

Visiting close relatives; participating in religious activities, conducting any form of research, and enrolling in an educational program are among the eight designated “general licenses” allowing Americans entry to Cuba. This method takes more time and effort than using a US based travel specialist. You will need to keep proper documentation of your activities in the country for up to 5 years but it will offer you much greater freedom on the ground. The broad spectrum of “research” is almost immeasurable in its scope. But, if you keep a detailed log of your research and preferably document it with photographs or video, the ability to visit Cuba to research just about anything is within anyone’s grasp. Of course, the freedom garnered by traveling to Cuba independently is absolute.

If you choose to travel independently and feel you have a subject you wish to research or, you fall under one of the above criteria, booking your travel to Cuba is relatively simple. Ask for assistance on the chat button shown on this website and your bookings will be handled from Europe, all bookings billed through non Cuban entities and, certainly not companies domiciled in Cuba, whether foreign or Cuban controlled.

Cuba Hotel Reservation | No more Prepayment

 

For over two decades Cuba has been one of the worlds few destinations where in order to receive a hotel confirmation, one had to prepay the whole stay, days, weeks or months in advance. Some visitors having prepaid thousands for a hotel stay in Cuba six months or more in advance. But not any longer!

 

Recent sweeping changes introduced in July 2013 mean that you can now secure your hotel booking in Cuba without the draconian 100% payment regime imposed until now. Apparently, due to dwindling hotel bookings and a marked preference for the “pay on arrival” casa particulares, the Cuban tourism officials have introduced these new measures designed to increase hotel room sales and stimulate bookings. Hotel Bookings Cuba is the first of such booking platforms.

 

The hotel chains currently allowing 100% confirmed bookings without prepayment are; Melia, IBEROSTAR, Occidental, Gran Caribe, Cubanacan, H10, BE LIVE, Breezes, SOFITEL, HABAGUANEX, ACCOR, ISLAZUL, SANDALS, Gaviota, BELLEVUE, MEMORIES or Mercure.

 

The system operates similar to familiar world standardized hotel bookings where a card is provided during the booking process, however, unlike before, the card is only charged after you have checked into the hotel. The card is not required at check in because it is charged automatically once the hotel advises the system that you successfully checked in, at which time the charge is completed without your involvement or any local payment being required. In all intents and purposes, it operates much like a prepaid booking for the hotel check-in formalities because the hotel need only advise you´ve checked in order to obtain full payment from the booking system.

 

Another welcome feature is the multicurrency billing, which now means that hotel rates are shown in all major currencies instead of just Euros or CUC.

 

With thousands of successful bookings since July 8th (when the system rolled out), the coordination has proved faultless, with guests receiving their guaranteed Cuban hotel booking upon arrival without hiccups.

 

With world economies still affected by financial crisis, it is more than likely that this decision was taken to align Cuba with the rest of the world. After all, paying months or up to a year in advance may have deterred visitors from choosing Cuba when destinations like Jamaica, Dominican Republic or Miami have been allowing non prepayment of hotel rooms for over a decade.

 

We think that Cuba may be looking to cash in on these organized travelers who book well in advance but, until now, have steered clear of Cuba due to the immense payment required to secure their hotel stays.

 

With Cuba Hotel Bookings now firmly in the 21st century, we can only expect tourism numbers to increase in 2014.

American Travel to Cuba 2013 Update

Cuba Travel for americans

Americans traveling to Cuba usually travel with the intent of helping the Cuban people. Recent data acquired from Cuba indicate that the current hotel rooms available on the island total 64798 hotel rooms. However, a seldom released figure is that of casa particulars or home stays, often the preferred accommodation route for Americans visiting Cuba, over the past 3 years, these home stay rooms have increased exponentially with 6115 rooms now being offered by private Cuban citizens to visiting tourists in 2013. Another figure that is startling, is the amount of private restaurants in Cuba which this year totals 2242 licensed private restaurants in Cuba. Raul Castro´s push to open the private sector seems to be firmly underway, as numbers of entrepreneurial Cubans increase exponentially across the island.

Americans visiting Cuba also tend to travel around more than visitors from other nations. Canadians being the most sedate visitors to the island, they tend to stay not only in one location but, also visit All-inclusive Hotels and seldom leave the confines of their chosen Cuban Hotel. The recent increase in American visitors is spurring a rethink of accommodations. The Cuban tourism ministry MINTUR is worried that any further easing of US travel restrictions to the island could leave many of their staple markets such as Canada, United Kingdom and Russia without enough rooms. Recent transcripts of speeches made by Manuel Marrero, Cuba´s tourism minister, indicate that the authorities are taking action now to increase hotel room numbers to 85,000 rooms by 2020 and casa particular numbers to 9000 rooms.

Other figures from Transtur, Cuba´s main Car Rental Company, show that the numbers of Americans who rent cars far exceeds the average percentage of any other nationality. So, while American visitors to Cuba are still counted in the 10´s of thousands, the amount who rent cars is extremely high.

Old Havana Hotels continue to be the main choice for Americans looking for Hotels stays in Cuba. Obviously, this is directly related to the people-to-people Cuba trips currently favored by Americans because Old Havana offers the most varied selection of locations where these programs can visit. Of course, tourist locations such as Varadero or Cayo Santa Maria, while popular with international visitors, are still largely devoid of the Cuban Culture Americans search. Furthermore, these purely tourist enclaves are difficult to match with People-to-People trips to the island.

As numbers of Americans visiting Cuba slowly increases, allied to possible further concessions by the Obama administration, it will be interesting to see if Americans gravitate to beach vacations like their Canadian neighbors or, whether they stick to a more culturally rich travel agenda as is the case today.

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