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Florida Airports prepare for increase in US based holiday makers to Cuba

  • 08-Feb-11 15:59
  • Cuba
  • Sun Sentinel Travel News

Airports in Florida are seeking federal permission to provide direct flights for U.S travellers on Cuba holidays as the Obama administration recently eased restrictions on travel to the country for religious, academic, or cultural groups.

Florida Airports prepare for increase in US based holiday makers to Cuba

Airport officials in Key West, Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando are preparing for the increase in travellers booking Cuba holidays by seeking federal permission to operate direct flights to the Caribbean island.

Florida airports are expected to see an increase in the number of travellers taking Cuba holidays as Obama's administrations eased the travel restrictions for cultural, religious and educational groups from the United States.

The main goal of the airports is to provide flights to Cuba for all travellers if both countries lift all restrictions on the decades-long travel embargo for American holiday makers.

Director of Administration and Strategic Planning for the Broward County Aviation Department, Doug Webster, explained: "If relations change between the two countries, we'd certainly like to be well-positioned to take advantage. If we ever get to that point, the potential is big."

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and Tampa International airports have already approached the U.S Customs and Border Protection agency confirming that they would like to offer direct flights to and from Cuba. Orlando International Airport is still considering applying and Key West International Airport is preparing an application.

Phil Brown, Executive Director of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said: "We're looking toward the future, and there's a possibility of regime change in Cuba.

"What we've seen over the years is that once these changes occur there's a rapid need, and you're better off to be prepared rather than scramble after the fact to get ready."

Though the new flights might not affect the holiday industry in Florida itself, the increase in charter companies who will cater for the increase of students, researchers, artists, missionaries and Cuban-American travellers could create hundreds of new jobs in the area.

In 2009 Obama lifted restrictions on Cuban-American travellers returning to the island to visit family and friends has doubled and the latest rule change which took effect on 28th January is expected to increase the number of visitors to Cuba.

Cuba is expected to welcome an influx of American visitors as they stay in Cuba hotels and resorts and visit local historical attractions, sites and natural landscapes.

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