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Posted September 12, 2011 by publisher in Legal Travel to Cuba

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Rob Sequin | Havana Journal

Cuba Birding, History and Culture Trip

Rocky Mountain College in Billings Montana is offering the general public the opportunity to travel to Cuba in a recent post from the Billings Gazette with the title Public may travel to Cuba with RMC professor.

The public is invited to join Dr. Jennifer Lyman, professor of environmental science and studies, who will lead a birding, natural history and culture tour of Cuba, Feb. 24 through March 3, 2012.

Lyman will escort the tour, which includes stays in four-star hotels in Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad, accompanied by an English-speaking guide versed in nature, history and culture. Cost of the tour, which includes air transportation to Cuba and luxury coach in Cuba, is $3,695 per person, double occupancy ($500 single supplement). The cost includes hotel accommodation and many meals.

The two-credit trip is for RMC students, but public participants may join the tour for an additional $95 audit fee. For this trip the first deposit is due Oct. 17 (1/2 the amount) and the remainder due Nov. 26.

I think someone should tell the college that this is illegal.

Although OFAC is issuing new people to people licenses, no academic, religious, non-profit or any other type of organization or company is legally allowed to offer Cuba trips to the general public especially with such a vacation type agenda as listed in the Billings Gazette article. Also, one has to wonder why the College is flying out of Cancun and not the United States.

Openly and publicly promoting illegal trips to Cuba by any organization is not good for those companies and non-profit organizations that are licensed to offer Cuba trips, tours and/or travel services.

An email was sent to the email listed in the article but no reply has been received at this time.

Cuba Trip Itinerary

DAY 1 — Friday, Flight from Billings to Cancun, Mexico

DAY 2 — Saturday/Arrival in Havana

DAY 3 — Sunday/Exploring the city of Havana

DAY 4 — Monday/Ernest Hemingway house / urban organic agriculture

DAY 5 — Tuesday / Las terrazas eco-community-birdwatching

DAY 6 — Wednesday / Boca de Guama / Crocodile reserve / TAINO village / cienfuegos

DAY 7 — Thursday/CITY OF TRINIDAD DE CUBA

DAY 8 — Friday / TOPES DE COLLANTES / HAVANA

For more information, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or call her at (406) 657-1186.

  1. Follow up post #1 added on September 12, 2011 by John McAuliff

    If they also have a People to People license, or are organizing the trip through a P2P, they would be covered for the auditors.  If not, you are correct because all student participants under a general license must be obtaining credit for graduation.

    It is not a vacation agenda.  Take a look at what is offered by Insight Cuba and National Geographic. 

    It is completely legal to travel via a third country, and even to use a third country travel agent to do bookings for a legal trip.  Flying from Montana the costs may well be better through Cancun.

    John McAuliff
    Fund for Reconciliation and Development
    http://cubapeopletopeople.blogspot.com/


  2. Follow up post #2 added on September 13, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    John,

    Thank you very much for your time and comments.

    It is my understanding now that the trip is being organized through a Canadian tour operator so, at this time, a people to people license is not involved.

    So, I understand that RMC students can go for credit but offering this trip to the general public appears to be a violation of US law.

    The reason I wrote about this is because I do not support illegal travel to Cuba. I do openly and actively support legal travel to Cuba.

    I will post any updates I receive from the College or tour operator that they wish to have published.

    At this time, it is my understanding that RMC does not have the legal right to offer this trip to the general public.



    Cuba consulting services

  3. Follow up post #3 added on September 13, 2011 by John McAuliff

    The enrolled students and faculty will be able to use the general license requiring only a letter from the appropriate university official. 

    If the school has access to a people to people license of its own or in partnership with another group,it could include auditors. Or it could apply for a specific license to include auditors.  That should be a no-brainer for OFAC but who knows.

    Whether using a general or specific license, the use of a third country provider is legally just as appropriate as using a US based Travel Service Provider.

    This is another example of how current US policy discriminates against virtually all US travel agents and tour operators, thus costing Americans jobs.

    John McAuliff


  4. Follow up post #4 added on September 13, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    Thanks for the clarification. I am waiting to hear if the College has a People to People license.

    I am in the process of writing about the Manatee Florida/Manati Cuba sister cities organization that DOES have a People to People license.

    They had their inaugural trip to Cuba from Tampa last Thursday and now they are inviting the public to travel with them using the services of Scand America, a license travel service provider.

    I should have the article posted today.



    Cuba consulting services

  5. Follow up post #5 added on September 21, 2011 by publisher with 3905 total posts

    The tour operator handling the details of this Cuba trip, Cuba Education Tours, has informed us that the College has posted a correction to the news article to correct the error:

    “The general public cannot travel to Cuba on the trip as auditors of the Rocky class. Travelers must be students enrolled in the class.”

    The official website of the Cuba trip is RockyToCuba.com.



    Cuba consulting services

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