Trump’s Cuba policy tries to redefine ‘good’ US tourism. It might be just what the island’s rulers want, too. – Washington Post

The American traveler in Cuba — sweating, disoriented and probably a bit woozy from the rum drinks — is once more at the heart of the struggle for the island’s future.

Central to President Trump’s plans to peel back his predecessor’s detente with Cuba is the idea that there is “good” and “bad” U.S. travel. The United States, Trump believes, can tightly regulate American vacations to deprive the Castro government of dollars and redirect the money to the island’s growing class of entrepreneurs.

But it will be difficult to pick winners in Cuba’s state-controlled economy, where government businesses and the private sector are thoroughly intertwined. And even harder will be determining what sort of travel constitutes the kind of “people-to-people” interactions the Trump administration says it wants to preserve.

By reinstating restrictions on independent travelers, the Trump administration’s new policy will hurt Cuba’s emerging private sector that caters to American visitors, critics insist.

Instead, the new rules will herd Americans back toward the kind of prepackaged, predictable group tourism that the Cuban government actually prefers — and earns more revenue from.

“I think if you come here on a package tour, you see what the Cuban government wants you to see,” said Andrew Sleyko, 36, a food scientist from Chicago who was visiting the island for the first time as Trump announced his new policy.

Sleyko and a friend had booked rooms through Airbnb and were spending their days walking around the city in the muggy heat.

“We’re talking to people wherever we go,” he said. “Isn’t that the idea of people-to-people?”

The Trump plan, announced Friday in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood, asserts that the Obama-era rules facilitated what the White House called “illegal” tourism by allowing U.S. travelers to rent rooms in Cuban homes through sites such as Airbnb.

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