The Trump administration on Tuesday imposed major new travel restrictions on visits to Cuba by US citizens, banning stops by cruise ships and ending a heavily used form of educational travel as it seeks to further isolate the communist government, the AP reports. The Treasury Department announced that the US will no longer allow cruises to Cuba or the group educational and cultural trips known as "people to people" travel to the island. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the measures are a response to what it calls Cuba's "destabilizing role" in the Western Hemisphere, including support for the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela. "This administration has made a strategic decision to reverse the loosening of sanctions and other restrictions on the Cuban regime," Mnuchin said. "These actions will help to keep US dollars out of the hands of Cuban military, intelligence, and security services."
Cruise ships have brought thousands of Americans to Cuba—a highly successful new line of business for US cruise lines that also has become the most popular way for American leisure travelers to visit the island—since the US began restoring full diplomatic relations with the communist government in December 2014 and have provided an important economic lifeline to the island. Along with the cruise ships, the US will also now ban most private planes and boats from stopping in the island. Commercial airline flights appear to be unaffected and travel for university groups, academic research, journalism, and professional meetings will continue to be allowed. The new restrictions take effect Wednesday, but the government will allow anyone who has already paid for the trip to go ahead with it. (Trump had previously rolled back the Obama administration's "completely one-sided deal with Cuba.")