U.S. Governor Exploring business and tourism possibilities for Americans to enjoy Cuba holidays
Sonny Perdue, Georgia's Governor took the chance to explore the Cuba holiday market in the prospect that one day it might be open for American travellers to enjoy. During his visit he met with official from Cuba's Chamber of Commerce.
During his recent visit to Cuba, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue took the opportunity to explore the Cuba holidays market once it’s open for Americans to enjoy. Gov. Perdue met Monday with officials from Cuba’s Chamber of Commerce and its food import company as part of a two-day visit to explore his state’s trade and future tourism possibilities in the island.
The Republican governor is leading a 43-member delegation that includes state lawmakers, port officials and representatives from agribusiness and the University of Georgia and hopes that once the Cuba travel and trade bans are lifted the option of taking Cuba holidays for Americans will be a 'profitable' dream (for tour operators and travel agents across both sides of the pond) come true.
The meetings were “as much about building a relationship with Cuban officials as learning about the business environment there,” spokesman Bert Brantley said when explaining how the future possibility of establishing stronger commercial ties seemed to be nearing its due date.
Perdue’s schedule did not include a meeting with President Raul Castro or his brother Fidel. Washington’s 48-year-old embargo currently prohibits most trade between the two countries. And yet sales of American food and farm items to Cuba have been allowed since 2000, and the U.S. has been the island’s main source of agricultural goods since 2004.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Georgia ranks third among states in exports to Cuba, including nearly $16.3 million so far this year in goods such as poultry, soybeans, pork, sausage and margarine.
In a statement, Perdue said Georgia could one day be a hub for Cubans visiting the U.S. via Atlanta’s international airport (and viceversa - Georgians going on Cuba holidays) —although now it is hard to imagine droves of islanders holidaying in the U.S. since overseas Cuba travel requires expensive, often hard-to-obtain official permission.
However, U.S. tourism to Cuba — outlawed in most cases under a federal travel ban that bars American tourists from coming to the island — rose 24 % last year, according to Cuban government statistics posted online Monday.
The National Office of Statistics reported that more than 52,000 American tourists took "secret" Cuba holidays last year, with most presumably coming through third countries like Mexico, Canada and Jamaica, compared with about 42,000 in 2008. The statistics office shed no light on the explanation for the increase.
That figure does not include Cuban-Americans, who have been able to make unlimited trips to visit family on the island since the Obama administration eased restrictions in April 2008, allowing them to take more frequent Cuba holidays.
Visits by U.S. governors are fairly common, most recently by New Mexico’s Bill Richardson last August. Most duck questions about lifting the embargo since it is currently written into federal law.
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