Tampa guide fears fate of travel to Cuba ahead of Pres. Trump announcement

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – George Conlan loves his job. It is one of adventure and travel, new experiences and new cultures. He tells us, for him, it is something he has always wanted to do. 

Conlan is a licensed travel agent with a focus on trips to Cuba. He knows a thing or two about the island nation, and he should. He’s been there 150 times, showing tourists a world that they’ve never seen.

He’s been doing this for nearly two decades.

“I really enjoyed going to Cuba,” he said. “It was different. It was the forbidden fruit.”

Conlan is afraid Cuba will possibly be forbidden once again. He is anxious to hear what President Trump will say about the future of travel and business in Cuba.

“It [would] be a shame to reverse what is going on,” Conlan said. “There’s been a lot of progress made. The people in the street are actually getting money.”

However, many, including Senator Marco Rubio, are concerned that money is being used to strengthen the Cuban military instead of empowering the people.

Conlan maintains that he’s seen positive change since the travel embargo was lifted. He said he has seen the emergence of a middle-class, where local businesses in Havana have benefited from the influx of tourism.

“Seventeen years ago when I started going there, there was the rich and the poor. Now, there is a lot of people in the streets with money, and they’re able to go to restaurants and open up new restaurants.”

His fear on the eve of the president’s announcement concerning Cuba is that any drastic changes at this point could destroy progress. The president is set to announce a new policy aimed at stopping what the White House describes as the flow of cash to Cuba’s military.

Although the new policy will take a harder line on Cuba, it is expected to maintain diplomatic relations with Cuba and allow U.S. airlines and cruise ships to continue servicing the island. Those who have trips planned already should not be affected.

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