Obama Relaxes Cuba Travel Restrictions, Thanks Pope Francis [Video]

President Obama just announced in a public press briefing that he plans to loosen travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba. Interestingly, Obama thanks Pope Francis for facilitating the talks with Cuba.

In the press briefing which, Obama says that his administration will seek to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba, and lift the long-standing economic embargo against the island nation. He hopes that these actions will pave the way for open travel between the United States and Cuba for citizens of both countries.

Orbitz, the popular online travel service, is applauding the lifting of Cuban travel restrictions. WTOP reports that travel between the United States and Cuba will not begin immediately. However, it does give hope to airlines, hotel chains, and cruise companies that they soon will be able to bring tourists to Cuba. Carnival Cruise Lines feels this is a great step for both Cuba and the U.S., as Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean. Carnival calls the possibility of Cuban travel an exciting possibility.

In the press briefing, Obama also thanks Pope Francis for opening dialogue between the two nations. Obama says the pope sent an extraordinary letter to both Obama and Castro this summer which “gave us [Obama and Castro] greater impetus and momentum for us to move forward.”

The conference comes on the heels of Cuba’s release of U.S. prisoner Alan Gross.

The president’s full speech can be seen above in the brief recording by the White House. The actual briefing begins at the 27 minute mark in the video.