While it has always been, in recent history, a 'no-no' for Americans to sail to Cuba, Australians and New Zealanders just love the place. Now, Cuba is doing its best to hold out the welcome mat. First, from now on cruising boats will be able to send information ahead by utilising a special website, which will simplify your arrival. Second, it has announced that it will allow leisure yachts to stay in the country for up to five years, or even longer periods, according to new regulations for marinas posted this week in the government's Official Gazette.
Just one of the hundreds of idyllic sailing anchorages in Cuba
The document was approved by the Council of Ministers and signed by Cuban President Raul Castro, and according to the Gazette, arises due to the complexity of operations in the marinas, which involved several state agencies.
This regulation aims to improve and simplify the formalities for releasing vessels and strengthening the competitiveness of Cuba's tourist marinas, the source said.
'Recreational boats on pleasure cruises will be able to remain in the national territory for up to five years,' the regulation states. Individual marinas will be able to extend the period.
Cuba sailing map
The decree was backed by the ministries of Tourism as well as Finance and Prices. The legislation also established a definition for 'marinas', with rules for planning, development and preservation.
Under this regulation, if a yacht's owner is absent for an extended period, he or she must sign a contract with the marina to ensure the safekeeping of the boat and the services required.
The clearance process of pleasure boats from abroad will be managed by the harbor master of the given marina.
The measure is part of a broader initiative to diversify tourism in Cuba, which is currently the second-highest economic activity for the Caribbean island. The government said it plans to create a National Nautical Commission, which will coordinate policies relating to nautical tourism.