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Travcoa gets renewed license to sell cultural holidays to Cuba

The U.S. Treasury Department has granted Travcoa's Cuba travel license renewal to continue providing culturally-engaging holidays to the Caribbean island for two more years, under the People to People programme put in place by Obama's administration. For this new season, American travellers booking their Cuba experience with Travcoa can look forward to new tour offerings, as the tour operator diversifies its portfolio of Cuba tours.

Travcoa gets renewed license to sell cultural holidays to Cuba

After a successful first year selling cultural Cuba experiences to inquisitive American travellers, Travcoa is now expanding its portfolio of tours to Cuba as their "People to People" license is renewed for two more years.

A tour operator offering cultural holidays to Cuba, meeting the strict requirements set by the U.S. Treasury Department, Travcoa had a good first year selling tours to the Caribbean island. Now, as their People to People travel license is renewed the company has made a few adjustments to their travel itineraries to include more places of cultural interest outside the capital and to offer travellers more choice of what to see and do in Cuba.

With their first and only tour covering only Havana, this year they have split their one Cuba trip into two different variations; one seven-day tour and one ten-day tour, both of which are named Community, Culture and Cuisine.

For those preferring to fully immerse in Havana and not wanting to travel around, the initial seven-trip (which enjoyed much success) is ideal. However, during that first year Travcoa learned that some travellers left thirsty for more adventure and wanted rural experiences outside Havana.

Cathy Holler, Vice President of Business Development and Product Innovation at Travcoa explained:

"There's another side of the community of travellers that wants to have a more intensive exploration. They want to actually get into the country and stay in places outside of Havana. Last year we had a full programme that did Havana and into the external countryside, into Cienfuegos, Trinidad, Santa Maria and those regions."

"This year what we've done is we have a 10-day programme that does spend three days visiting Santa Clara, Cayo Santa Maria, Caibarien, Remedios, Caleton, and Cienaga de Zapata National Park. And then that program arrives in Havana and does the program in Havana for five nights. The shorter programme just does the Havana part."

Both tours start with a pre-night in Miami before flying to Cuba's dazzling and intriguing capital of Havana. Explaining the limitations of those who go to Cuba under the People to People cultural exchange programme, Holler said:

"One of the requirements of the People to People program is that it's not a leisure vacation. It's a full-time programmw of educational exchange. So from the morning till 5 o'clock you are busy doing approved People to People exchanges where you're engaging with the locals.

"So if someone is looking to travel to Cuba to go to the beaches, you can't do that as an American visitor under the People to People licensing and opportunity. It doesn't mean that after 5 o'clock or so when you're at the hotel, if there's a beach you can go to it. But during the daytime it's not a beach vacation.

"This is really designed for somebody who is truly fascinated to learn about the culture, the people and the history, and to really get authentic engagements at a local level with Cuba."

So, despite the strict measures in place, at the end of the day, all travellers in the programme are free to enjoy their time at leisure and that means that if they want to go to a beach they can freely do so. Of course no stays at all-inclusive beach resorts are possible under the People to People exchanges, but then no one going to these tours is interested in that kind of experience. After all they're called cultural tours for a reason, and that is diving deep into Cuba's cultural and historical riches.

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