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People have been traveling to and from Cuba since Columbus landed near Baracoa in October, 1492. Tourism was very imporant in Cuba prior to 1959. Between 1959 and the collapse of the USSR, Cuba adopted the position that tourism was an activity only enjoyable by capitalists and people of upper class wealth. Hence, Cuba did not allow tourism. After the collapse of the USSR and Eastern bloc, Cuba needed to obtain "hard currency" for trade. Tourism was resurrected as a source of gross national revenue.

Tourism today is tightly controlled by the Cuban government. Many tourist resorts are "off limits" to average Cuban citizens unless they are employees at the tourist destination. Tourism also includes excursions to cities and rural areas of Cuba where the "real Cuba" is, not the hustle and bustle of Havana.

Tourism to Cuba is not allowed for USA citizens and permanent USA residents. Spending money and travel to, from and within Cuba is allowed under a "general" or "specific" license issued by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. A per diem allowance, which varies from year to year, is set by the US State Department for travelers to Cuba.

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