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Cuba Policy Change Will Have Impact On Travel & Money

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Wednesday's historic announcement on U.S. and Cuba relations opened the door to more than just diplomacy.

It could mean very real changes in the day-to-day lives of Cuban-Americans in South Florida.

The impact could be felt among the travel industry and people sending money transfers to the island.

CLICK HERE To Watch MaryAnn Martinez's Report

Travel agents worked the phones all day Thursday, fielding calls from people who wanted to book trips to Cuba.

"Today has been a little bit crazy," said Orlando Consuegra with Tocororo Travel.  "People wanting to travel by the end of the year."

Consuerga said the calls have been coming from Cuban-Americans, non-Cuban Americans, and even Europeans visiting the United States.  "All kinds of questions are emerging now. Unfortunately, we don't have all the answers. I think nobody does at the moment," said Consuerga.

President Barack Obama's announcement opened up travel to Cuba for the first time in 53 years.

White House officials said travel will now be allowed for family visits, U.S. government business, journalism, educational and religious activities, humanitarian projects and general support for the Cuban people.

Some people warn the ripple effects may not always be good.

At Miami International Airport, 20 charter flights a day got Cuba with small companies like Vision Airlines.

Flights have to be booked through travel agents.

"You will be able to maybe buy the tickets online, which you cannot do today. Charter airlines are also going to suffer if this opens up completely," said Consuegra.

American Airlines is currently the only major U.S. carrier flying directly to Cuba from Miami.

A spokesman for the airport at Miami International told CBS4 News it's going to take some direction from the U.S. State Department, the FAA and the airlines before any major changes are seen at MIA.

The White House also announced money transfer amounts will be raised from $500 to $2,000 every three months.

Western Union officials told CBS4 News it will be a few weeks before any changes take effect.

Rolando Companeone, who transfers money to his family in Cuba, said he is cautiously optimistic about changes to money transfers.

"We have to wait and see how things are going to play out before we can weigh in," Companeone said.



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