U.S. Authorities approve three more companies to provide People-to-People travel programmes to Cuba
Three more travel companies have been granted permission by the U.S authorities to provide Cuba holidays for American travellers. Central Holidays, the Globus Family of Brands, and Other Cuban Journeys are now all licensed to provide people-to-people educational travel to the Caribbean island of Cuba, with activity-packed trips commencing this summer.
The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has granted permission to three travel companies, allowing them to provide people-to-people educational trips to the island of Cuba.
More U.S travellers will now be able to legally travel to Cuba after Central Holidays, the Globus Family of Brands, and Other Cuban Journeys were each granted licences for travel to the communist island in the Caribbean.
One of them, Central Holidays, a mainstay tour operator to Europe founded in 1972, was really excited about the opportunity as it has seen a rise in interested american travellers who want to visit Cuba.
"We were getting requests from our clients who have travelled on our Europe group tours. They wanted to go to Cuba with us. We gave it a lot of thought and decided to take the plunge," explained the CEO, Gianni Miradoli.
The tour operator has partnered with California-based Premier World Discovery/Chamber Explorations, who were granted a license in April by U.S Authorities to provide people-to-people cultural exchange holidays to Cuba.
Central Holidays announced their programme last month and will offer 19 departures between 9th August and 12th December, 2013.
During the tour operator's eight-day "Discover Cuba" itinerary ($3,899 per person) holidaymakers will be able to enjoy a wide range of activities in and around Havana and visitors will get the chance to meet locals, artists and dancers.
For Globus, their journey began two years ago when it got ready to make its debut in Cuba with a collection of escorted religious programmes in January 2012. The company had to put its plans on hold while federal regulations and rules were put into place and they now offer two nine-day itineraries with 20 departures between 14th July and 3rd Nov, 2013.
"Our new programmes are not religious in theme but instead offer a full schedule of people-to-people educational exchange activities designed to result in meaningful interactions between our travellers and individuals in Cuba," commented Pam Hoffee, the Vice President of Product and Operations for the Globus Family of Brands.
The company will be offering "The Undiscovered Cuba" tour which includes a week in Havana with tours of historical and cultural sights, plus interactions with artists, musicians, architects, cigar rollers, students and workers at a silk-screening studio.
The second programme, Cuba's Charming Colonial Cities and Havana, allows tourists to visit Camaguey, Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Playa Giron (Bay of Pigs) and Havana during holidays in Cuba.
The third company, Other Cuban Journeys, received its OFAC license in January, but founders of the company, Marla Whitesman and Miriam Saul, have been leading humanitarian trips to Cuba's small Jewish community since 2000.
"Our past experiences, personal relationships and friendships with Cubans from all walks of life set us apart from other companies offering the people-to-people programs," explained Saul, a Cuban-American.
The travel company is offering six departures between 17th June, 2013 and 20th January, 2014 for the Faces of Cuba tour ($3,900 per person). The eight-day programme includes Cuba travel around Havana and the provinces of Matanzas and Pinar del Rio.
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