Trump and Rubio depart Washington as partners on Cuba

Americans now make up some 7 percent of total visits - 15 percent including Cuban Americans - and a much larger proportion in Havana given many of Cuba's tourists are Canadians on package trips who head directly to the beach resorts.

Trump's new policy will eliminate such visits by individuals while still allowing them to be done as group tours, and also retaining individual travel under other authorized categories such as religious, artistic and journalistic activities, the official said. We shouldn't be rescuing the Castro regime, but from the standpoint of American foreign policy, our lives would not be better if we added a Cuban succession crisis to the one shaping up in Caracas. That will make it more hard for Americans yet to book to Cuba a trip to do so this year.

"When the Obama administration stopped condemning human rights violations in Cuba, the regime here said "look we can do this and nothing happens, so we can continue repressing more forcefully", said Jose Daniel Ferrer, who leads the Patriotic Union of Cuba, the country's largest dissident group. Numerous big hotels in Havana, for example, would be off limits to American visitors.

"My friends and I have invested a lot in the possibility of the American public coming, so yes I'm anxious", said Coba, 27, echoing the view of many Cubans working in the relatively lucrative tourism sector. No more people-to-people travel, which the White House said was open to too much abuse.

Sources say the new plan won't touch existing tourism deals, like one that was struck under Obama by Starwood Hotels and USA airlines and cruise lines to the island will likely be exempt. "And you can tell where they are because there are dozens of people crowded around there", said Carlos Gutierrez, a Cuban-American who served as Commerce Secretary in the George W. Bush administration.

Nor is it in the US national interest to push the Cuban economy over the cliff.

"This is limited to perhaps as small as three voices in the U.S. Congress, certainly less than ten, suggesting a course of action that is not only not the best interests of the United States of America, but it's not the popular view", said Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., one of seven House members who wrote the president to oppose the changes.

Saying that the aim was to fix what Trump has called a "bad deal" struck by Obama, U.S. officials said the new administration would leave the door open to improved relations if Cuba undertakes democratic reforms such as allowing free elections and releasing political prisoners.

Rubio will attend Friday's speech by Trump on Cuba. "For this reason, neither announcements nor new measures will rob us our sleep". "And we've already seen significant changes", said Williams. "But the idea of returning to something that we know does not work doesn't make any sense".

Trump plans to preserve some of the policy changes made by Obama. The thaw also allowed Americans to bring more goods back from the island nation.

Visiting the home of many Cuban exiles in the United States, Trump will issue a presidential directive to reverse some of the loosened regulations that Obama introduced after a 2014 breakthrough with Havana to improve ties for the first time in decades.

  • Leroy Wright