US - Cuba travel conference to be held next week in Cancun
The US-Cuba Travel Conference has been formally announced to take place between 24-26 March at the Gran Melia Hotel Cancun in Cancun. Possible business ties will be discussed around the topic of Washington lifting the ban of Cuba Travel for Americans.
After months of much speculation of whether the U.S. government would pass a bill allowing American citizens to take Cuba holidays, whereas there is still no light shed over whether it will happen or not at least it has been finally confirmed that the U.S.-Cuba Travel Conference is to be held during March 24-26th in Cancun, Mexico, and talks there will be around the topic of eliminating Washington’s ban on U.S citizens being freely able to visit the islande. The event is being organised by the U.S.-based Alamar Associates – which has been working with Cuba for 35 years -, and is sponsored by the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) and in association with the National Tour Association (NTA).
The Gran Meliá Cancun will be the selected venue for the meeting of delegations of businesspeople and specialists that will discuss travel between the two countries and the possibilities Cuba holidays will bring to the American holiday market. The news of this reunion was recently given firsthand by Mrs. Kirby Jones, president of Alamar Associates, and Miguel Alejandro Figueras, advisor to the Cuban minister of tourism, during a press conference at the headquarters of Havana’s International Press Center.
Kirby Jones highlighted what he considers to be a positive atmosphere for the effort to achieve the elimination by the Washington government of the ban on U.S. citizens’ travel to Cuba and normally enjoying Cuban holidays without risking it by still going through other countries. “We are speaking of the right of that nation’s citizens to freedom to travel.” – he declared.
He went on to add that the conference will be attended by delegates from companies that move 85% of travel abroad, and that it will be the stage for positive contact between businesspeople to analyse possible business deals once Cuba holidays are a reality for Americans, also after a future elimination of the blockade imposed by the United States on Cuba.
For his part, Figueras recalled that this type of exchanges has been taking place for 7 years already and that it is important to demonstrate that Cuba holidays represent one of the safest holiday destinations for U.S. tourists, but that there isn’t enough information available to the American public about the island’s many attractions and cultural richness.
He added that Cuba will attend with a varied delegation, whose composition will be made up according to the conference’s counterpart.
Figueras pointed out that, according to forecasts from the American Society of Travel Agencies (ASTA), 2 years after the lifting of the ban some 850,000 U.S, citizens will travel to Cuba as tourists, staying at Cuba hotels, while half a million more will do so on cruise ships.
In 2003, some 85,000 U.S. citizens took Cuba holidays or travelled to Cuba, and that is not counting Cuban-Americans; in 2004, when the Bush plan was approved and restrictions increased, the figure dropped to some 45,000. Last year, approximately 50,000 U.S. citizens of Cuban origin travelled to the island, in addition to almost 300,000 Cubans residing abroad.
“Out of these, it should be taken into account that the great majority resides in the United States” - explained Figueras.
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