What is People to People?
People to People is a program approved by the Obama Administration in 2010 that enables citizens of the US to travel to Cuba legally on tours approved by the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The People to People tour provider must receive a license for each approved tour. All people to people tours are educational and the bulk of the tourist’s time is spent sightseeing and interacting with Cuban nationals.
One American and one Cuban tour guide must be present during tour activities. The goal is to learn about and experience Cuba’s fascinating culture and the island’s long history through interaction with Cuban people who are anxious to share and enjoy the unique attributes that exist on the Caribbean’s largest island.
For the most part, people to people travel is the only way Americans can visit Cuba legally. However, other nationalities may participate in similar tours.
Are all People to People Tours the Same?
There are many different People to People themes and venues for tours. Popular themes evolve around art, music, farming, architecture and history, but Cuba is a kaleidoscope of intriguing and dynamic personalities and events so tours tend to embrace more than one aspect of the culture. While Havana is a tourist hotbed for culture, every region has its own history and distinct persona.
Established tour guides may arrange meetings with famous musicians, artists, architects and historians or government officials. The People to People tour provider sets their itinerary well in advance of the trip because the tour must be approved by OFAC. Each visitor will know what they will see, where they will stay and where they will travel before they depart and can choose their trip based on the itinerary and theme.
What do People to People Tours Cost?
The cost of People to People tours can vary greatly. Factors that determine the cost of the package are time of year, quality of accommodations, amount of travel the tour involves and the meal package. Air-conditioned tour buses are used to transport tour participants when travel is needed.
How much Free Time Do Tourists Have?
OFAC policy is that all People to People participants must have a full-time schedule of events. Tours that do not meet this criteria are not approved. Tourists may have periods of free time in the early morning, during the evening and at night. Days will be busy experiencing Cuba and its friendly people.
Do I Need a Passport for People to People?
All Americans traveling to Cuba must have a passport that is valid for six months after your departure date. If your passport is nearing expiration, do not wait to renew.
Will I Need a Visa for People to People?
People to people travelers to Cuba will receive a “Cuban tourist card” which is a Cuban visa. Most People to People tour providers include the tourist card in your ticketing package. Tourist cards are two-part documents. Cuban immigration will take half the card when you arrive in country and take the second section upon your departure. You will have to present proof of a return flight and proof of health insurance from a recognized Cuban provider to receive your tourist card. The tour provider can make these arrangements.
Where Can I Exchange Currency in Cuba?
US dollars, Canadian dollars, euros, British sterling and other currencies can be exchanged for CUCs legally and safely at Casa de Cambios (CADECA) or at international Cuban banks or in your hotel lobby. Most tour providers recommend that currency be exchanged after clearing customs at the CADECA in the airport which offers several CADECA kiosks. The exchange rate will be the same at the CADECA kiosks and at your hotel and better than the rates at the international banks.
A tariff of 10 percent is charged for US dollars. This tariff is not charged for Canadian dollars, euros or other currencies. At present, the USD exchange rate is par with the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC).