Monday, October 6, 2014
Marina industry group plans trip to Cuba
By Doreen Hemlock,Sun Sentinel
Richard Graves dreams of the day when South Floridians can take their yachts for a weekend in Cuba.
That's why the Fort Lauderdale-based marina consultant is helping organize a trip to explore the island's marine scene, hoping to prepare for a time of open U.S-Cuba travel as Cuba seeks to develop marinas.
Graves aims to accompany more than a dozen U.S. marine industry specialists to Cuba from Feb. 18 to 22, just after Miami's international boat show. He hopes some participants at this month's mammoth boat show in Fort Lauderdale may sign up for the trip.
Their group aims to meet folks from the veteran Marina Hemingway and the expanding Marina Gaviota in Varadero, as well as Cubans in the arts, budding businesses and other fields.Washington's 52-year-old embargo on Cuba restricts most U.S. business with the communist-led island, but the Obama administration allows people-to-people tours, such as the one Graves is developing with licensed travel group Other Cuban Journeys.
"The idea is to make contacts and get a visual. You have to start understanding the culture to do business there one day," said Graves. "This is a long-term process."
The largest island in the Caribbean, Cuba now has just 15 marinas with roughly 800 slips, an inventory basically frozen for half a century. But the government has plans to add 23 marinas with more than 5,000 slips, working with foreign investors.
Projects include expanding Gaviota Varadero marina to 1,200 slips to become one of the Caribbean's largest, Cuban officials have said.
A University of Florida study has estimated 60,000 U.S. vessels over 25 feet long would visit Cuba the first year after Washington lifts restrictions on U.S. boat travel to the island.
"For boating and the marine industry, Cuba is a perfect gateway to the Caribbean, eastern and western," said Graves, who has done studies to boost U.S. boating to the Caribbean overall.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
|Pioneer Travel Software Introduced in Cuba|
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Invitation to Join a Labor Tour of Cuba: November 16th - November 22nd (8/15/14)
We are putting together a seven-day, six night tour of Cuba for senior staff and local leaders at various U.S. labor unions. The tour will concentrate on the current economic reforms and their impact on Cuban workers. It will also explore how Cuban trade unions are trying to deal with these massive changes. Finally, we will get a real education on how the U.S. blockade impacts Cuba and how it also impacts the United States.
We would like to invite you to join this exciting trip tentatively scheduled for November 16th through November 22nd. A maximum of fifteen (and a minimum of 10) people will join the tour that is sponsored and organized by Disarm Education Fund, a nonprofit organization that has a U.S. government license to conduct people-to-people tours of Cuba. The tour will be lead by Bob Schwartz, Director of Disarm Education Fund and Michael Locker, President of Locker Associates.
Undoubtedly you will learn a lot from this experience, and you could possibly use this knowledge in your work moving forward. The Revolution is now 55 years old and, as you probably know, Cuba is currently undergoing major economic and social changes, experimenting with new ways to improve their weak economy and incorporating private ownership in their restructuring efforts. As you might expect, Cuban workers from every occupation are undergoing difficult changes as these government reforms are being instituted.
Moreover, Cuba is still confronted with a total U.S. economic blockade, cutting the country off from all forms of U.S. commerce and investment. In our opinion this illegal and unjust blockade should be immediately lifted, first because of the massive damage to the Cuban people and their economy and second because it actually hurts the U.S. economy. By blockading Cuba, the U.S. government has eliminated significant exports from the United States, thereby weakening the U.S. economy and employment opportunities.
More specifically, the purpose of the trip is to explore:
· The rapidly changing Cuban reality.
· The role of Cuban unions and workers in restructuring their economy.
· The role of Cuban cooperatives in restructuring their economy.
· The impact of the U.S. embargo on Cuba and the United States.
· How the end of the U.S. embargo would affect the U.S. economy and U.S. workers.
· How to involve U.S. unions and labor leaders in ending the Cuban embargo.
Tentative activities during the trip include:
· Meet with national and local union leaders of the Central de Trabajadores de Cuba (CTC).
· Open discussion with the Cuban Communist Party on key political questions.
· Visit two traditional work centers, including a one day trip to Cienfuegos.
· Visit two new co-operative work centers.
· Visit the new port of Mariel.
· Visit a school or daycare center.
· Visit a health clinic.
· Presentation & discussion on the Cuban economy with a Cuban economist.
· Presentation & discussion on the US embargo and its impact on Cuba with an expert.
· Meet with the Catholic Church.
· Tour Old Havana where major restoration has occurred.
· Meet with professors and administrators at the University of Havana.
· Experience diverse cultural activities including music, dance, theater, etc.
This trip will cost about $3,000. This will include roundtrip airfare from Miami to Havana, transportation services inside Cuba, accommodations at a first-class hotel, breakfast every morning, two lunches and two dinners at excellent restaurants, translation and a guide. Transportation to and from Miami is not included and must be arranged for and paid by you.
See the attached Fact Sheet for further details on the tour.
If you are interested in applying for this tour fill out the attached questionnaire and return it no later than July 31, 2014 to:
225 Broadway, Suite 2625
New York, NY 10007
If you have any questions please call or email Michael Locker at 212-962-2980 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Cuban state tourism industry beginning to do business with new class of entrepreneurs
Andrea Rodriguez And Michael Weissenstein, The Associated Press
Sat, 27 Sep 2014 11:16:00 CST
Sat, 27 Sep 2014 11:16:00 CST
HAVANA - Cuba's state-run tourism industry increasingly is doing business with the country's new class of private entrepreneurs, trying to improve quality of food and lodging while maintaining a grip on the sector's biggest sources of foreign exchange.
One of the country's highest tourism officials provided new details on the initiative in an interview with The Associated Press, saying two dozen restaurants for tourists have been converted into worker-owned co-operatives since January. Jose Manuel Bisbe, president of state tour operator Havanatur, also said his firm was sending tourists to hundreds of private bed-and-breakfasts instead of government hotels.
"The state must free itself from activities that aren't decisive for the economy and that experience is showing function better privately," he told the AP on Friday. He said that some tourism-related businesses like bus transport and large-scale hotels would remain in state hands.
Tourism is one of Cuba's top four generators of income, along with nickel mining, medical services and remittances from relatives living abroad.
State-run restaurants for tourists and for Cubans have long suffered from complaints about poor quality and widespread pilferage by employees who resell food and supplies on the black market or take them for personal use. Hundreds of private restaurants have sprung up around the country since the launch of a limited economic liberalization four years ago and generally offer food and customer service far superior to those in government venues.
Cuba sees co-operatives as a middle ground between the communist model of state ownership and the private enterprise that has been making inroads into industries like restaurants and personal services under the reform meant to spur badly needed growth.
State news agency Prensa Latina has reported that Cuba has 11,000 restaurants, most for Cubans, and 1,260 private establishments known as "paladares," which cater mostly to visitors and foreigners living in Cuba.
Official statistics are sparse in Cuba and Bisbe declined to provide further details of the private enterprise initiative, including how many restaurants were run wholly or partly by the state tourism sector. The Ministry of Commerce also runs a large number of restaurants.
State news agency Cubadebate reported this week that 200 homeowners in the lush Vinales valley had signed deals with state tour operators to provide lodging for tourists.
Andrea Rodriguez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ARodriguezAP
Michael Weissenstein on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mweissenstein