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Pondering on the Future of Cuba holidays for Americans as US-Cuba Travel Hearing looms

  • 23-Apr-10 15:27
  • Cuba
  • Holiday Industry

With the date of the next hearing for the lifting of the ban on Cuba travel and trade approaching, Cuban and American tourism authorities prepare for the possibility of Americans taking Cuba holidays and the impact it would have on the island.

Pondering on the Future of Cuba holidays for Americans as US-Cuba Travel Hearing looms

As the hearing date looms for the official review of the U.S.-Cuba travel and trade policy, Trade Subcommittee Chairman John S. Tanner revealed that much anticipation was building among many American companies and tour operators contemplating the possibility of Cuba holidays for all American citizens, and not just those with special permissions to travel to Cuba.

On their part, Cuba anticipates that as many as 1 million of U.S. visitors would be taking Cuba holidays in the 12 months following the lift of the Cuba travel ban. If and when Americans can once again travel freely to Cuba, many industry executives anticipate a huge demand for trips to the island nation.

Lisa Simon, president of the National Tour Association (NTA), said during the U.S.-Cuba Travel Summit, held last March in Cancun:“Tourism to Cuba would generate $1.18 to $1.6 billion a year for the U.S. travel industry if travel restrictions were lifted,”

The summit discussed potential business opportunities for travel professionals if the 48-year-old travel ban to Cuba finally ends opening up many possibilites for Cuba travel and Cuba holidays tailored to the American market.

With the country having received a total of 2.4 million tourists in 2009. Cuban Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero Cruz said it could handle a sudden influx, estimated at 1 million U.S. visitors during the 12 months after travel restrictions were lifted. He added that within five years, this number is expected to triple.

“We need to redistribute visitors throughout the year” - Marrero announced dismissing concerns that the 30 new Cuba hotels set to add 10,000 rooms by 2013 would be insufficient.

With Cuba’s current inventory of 50,000 hotel rooms, 1,500 tour buses and 10,000 rental cars being but barely adequate to meet the high-season demand for Cuba holidays, many expressed their concern at the island’s tourism structure not being able to grow fast enough to receive a massive influx of American tourists..

On the other hand air travel to Cuba could be also be a bottleneck. “There is going to be so much demand that it’s going to be hard getting seats” - said John Hanratty, CEO of Travel Impressions.

Nevertheless, most tour operators remained optimistic. “Within three to six months, we could get trips underway after restrictions are lifted” - Paula Twidale of Collette Vacations said on a lighther note.

The conference, presented by Alamar Associates in association with the NTA and US Tour Operators Association, coincided with the consideration by Congress to lift the Cuba travel ban, which has beenin effect since 1962.

The all-important hearing will be taking place next 28th April 2010 and will be held at the House Ways and Means Trade Subcomittee and the issue of giving back the freedom for American citizens to go on Cuba holidays will be one of the meeting's highlights. The hearing will be focused on the subject of relaxing Cuba travel laws and trade restrictions with the purposes of advancing United States economic objectives.

In an announcement released today, Chairman Tanner said - “It is clear to me that the United States’ policy toward Cuba is not working.

“The embargo has failed to achieve its objectives and has shut U.S. workers, farmers and businesses out of the Cuban market.”

“The Administration has taken us in a new direction, but more needs to be done. It is time to expand our approach to promote U.S. economic interests in Cuba as well.”

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