03/12/2012 08:49 am ET

Obama Says No To Companies Wanting Ferry Trips To Cuba, (POLL)

A business trying to start ferry service to Cuba finally got an official answer from the U.S. government -- just not the one they wanted.

Fort Lauderdale-based Havana Ferry Partners LLC received a letter last week from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control, reports the Cuba Standard:

“To date, only air charter services have been permitted for the transportation of authorized travelers between the United States and Cuba. A White House initiative expanding purposeful travel to Cuba to broaden U.S. outreach to the Cuban people included, among other things, increasing the number of U.S. airports available for the operation of direct charter flights. Ferry services were not included in the group of policy changes. After consultation with the Department of State, OFAC has determined that the issuance of specific licenses … is beyond the scope of current policy.”

One of five companies seeking licenses to take customers to the communist island from different locations in Florida, Havana Ferry Partners LLC applied for their license almost two years ago according to the Sun-Sentinel, hopeful for an approval since the Obama administration has relaxed restrictions on travel to Cuba. It was willing to settle for a one-time license to take people to the island for Pope Benedict XVI's visit later this month, a request denied in January.

Jorge Fernández, who invests in Havana Ferry Partners, told Cuba Standard, “We believe in this, and will get this done.”

Last January, Obama made efforts to increase travel to Cuba by Cuban Americans wanting to visit family members, with hopes to “increase people-to-people contact; support civil society in Cuba; enhance the free flow of information to, from, and among the Cuban people; and help promote their independence from Cuban authorities,” according to a White House release.

Last year, 400,000 Cuban Americans traveled to the island from select American airports, USA Today reports. The United States government has been enforcing an economic embargo on Cuba for 50 years.

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