Havana dreaming: travel promoters gearing up for expected relaxation of
limits to Cuba travel
Uncategorized — posted by bshaw on September, 2 2010 1:03 PM
By William E. Gibson, Washington Bureau
The unofficial word in Washington is that the Obama administration plans
to relax limits on travel to Cuba for professional, educational and
Some travel promoters are gearing up to handle potentially hundreds of
thousands more visits.
Cuba Education Tours, a Canadian outfit, is urging Americans to start
booking trips before the anticipated rules change.
"There is no need to wait for changes from Washington and be left out on
account of overbooked tours and too few rooms and services," the group
says in an e-mail message touting their licensed services.
The tour group promotes a Boomers Whole Cuba Tour, a Havana
International Jazz Festival Tour, a New Years Teachers Introduction to
Cuba Tour and others detailed at http://CubaFriends.com/
"Cubans are eager to meet you and make friends with their northern
cousins," says Marcel Hatch, education director for the group.
Canadians have long traveled to Cuba without restraint.
The administration has not announced the change, but sources say it will
come later this year, perhaps after the mid-term elections in November.
The new rules would not undo the U.S. embargo, nor would they open the
floodgates to American tourists. They would ease restrictions on visas
for selected purposes — business, educational or artistic — that were
imposed by former President George W. Bush.
Essentially U.S. officials would return to the policy of the Bill
Clinton administration, which encouraged people-to-people encounters
Most Cuban-American leaders in South Florida support limits on travel to
try to isolate Cuba and deprive the Castro regime of tourism dollars.
But many in Congress are pressing to remove the travel ban for all
Americans, saying more contact and communication would encourage reforms
President Barack Obama last year fulfilled his campaign promise to allow
Cuban-Americans to visit their families and to send unlimited amounts of
money to Cuba.
Relaxed rules that make it easier for special groups to visit the island
is the next incremental step toward closer engagement with Florida's