Paving the Way for a Americans to Visit Cuba


Paving the Way for a Americans to Visit Cuba

By Burt Carey

When President Barack Obama landed in Havana, Cuba this week, he became the first U.S. president in 88 years to visit the island nation. And while politicians can ̶ and will ̶ continue to debate the wisdom of renewing diplomatic relations with a country still under communist rule, Obama’s actions have resulted in a flood of business and tourism opportunities.

opening diplomatic relations, cruise lines, travel to Cuba, Marriott, flights to Cuba from the U.S. , businesses expected to open operationsExecutives from various industries have filed for regulatory review or taken other steps to open operations in Cuba, actions that were not possible since Fidel Castro seized power in the late 1950s and then-President John F. Kennedy imposed an economic embargo and severed diplomatic relations in 1961.

Included in a potpourri of corporate actions would be direct flights from American cities to Cuba, and cruise ship operations opening as early as May of this year. Opening diplomatic relations with the Castro regime also means that Americans will be able to visit Cuba soon as tourists.

Carnival Cruise Lines has received approval by Cuban authorities to begin making stops in Havana and other ports in May. The 704-passenger MV Adonia will operate under Carnival’s Fathom brand, floating between Miami and Havana, with additional ports of call in Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

Seven-day cruise packages start at $1,800 per person, but exclude Cuban visa charges and other costs.

Starwood Hotels, which recently announced that it will be purchased by Marriott, has signed a deal to become the first American company to operate a hotel in Havana in 60 years. Starwood’s plan includes renovation of Hotel Inglaterra, conversion of the Hotel Quinta Avenida into a Four Points by Sheraton, and management of the exclusive Hotel Santa Isabel.

The hotelier operates such chains as W, Westin and St. Regis. It has 1,300 properties in 100 countries.

Starwood plans to locally source art, décor, food and materials, says Vice President Keith Grossman, to provide guests authentic experiences.

Marriott has also received permission to expand operations in Cuba.

Earlier this month six major U.S.-based airlines ̶ American, Alaska, Delta, Southwest, United and JetBlue ̶ asked for permission to begin flights to Cuba. The government said it will allow 20 daily round-trip flights between the U.S. and Havana and 10 daily round trips to nine other Cuban cities with international airports. So far, the airlines’ requests have far out-numbered those guidelines. The Department of Transportation is expected to make a decision on the flights this summer, including which airports those flights will be allowed to originate from.

Travel to Cuba from the U.S. remains limited to specific criteria, which includes family visits, government work, humanitarian work, education, journalism and professional research. Those restrictions are expected to be loosened by the Obama Administration.

Other businesses expected to open operations in Cuba include Google, AirBnB, Priceline and, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, PayPal, Stripe and Netflix.

Source:  Baret News


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