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American residents embrace Cuba through people-to-people programmes

Following a recent study, the U.S tour operator Friendly Planet has revealed that the majority of its clients who visited Cuba under its people-to-people programme would like to return to the island if they had the opportunity. The tour enables Americans and Cubans to exchange ideas, share cultural experiences and learn from one another.

American residents embrace Cuba through people-to-people programmes

The "people-to-people" programme to Cuba offered by U.S tour operator Friendly Planet is proving to be a hit with travellers according to the results of a recent survey.

The Pennsylvania-based tour company carried out a survey on clients who went on the organised tour to Cuba and discovered that 81.3 per cent of the travellers said they would return to Cuba if given the chance.

Peggy Goldman, the President of Friendly Planet, commented:

"This is the highest level of interest in revisiting a location that I have ever seen for any of our tours."

She explained that although the accommodation was not of the highest standards and the daily itineraries and their schedules were busy and challenging, the majority of the clients were keen to find out more about life in a country that has been off limits to most Americans for more than 50 years.

Itineraries must comply fully with U.S. rules barring sun-and-sand tourism, and encouraging tourists to engage with the culture and residents of the island.

The Cuba people people-to-people programme has been designed to help Americans and Cubans exchange ideas, share cultural experiences and learn from one another.

Goldman also added:

"Travellers on these programmes are not going for luxury or comfort. They are going to interact and immerse themselves in a completely different culture."

In 2011, President Obama eased restriction on Cuba travel for American residents and now U.S travellers can visit the Caribbean island through licensed tour operators for cultural, educational, academic and religious purposes.

In September, 2011, Friendly Planet received its license from the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

After the trip, 88 per cent of the tour operator's clients said that the experience has made them more likely to support the end of the 50-year-old embargo, and many of them were surprised by how friendly and open the people of Cuba were to the Americans.

"This illustrates for us that the people-to-people experience opens minds, expands horizons and allows people to look past politics and into the hearts and souls of individuals."

Goldman concluded.

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