Thursday, March 27, 2014

FAM and Preview Trips in April for Travel Professionals

The Fund for Reconciliation and Development is coordinating two trips in April.

 April 28-May 8   A familiarization (FAM) trip designed for travel professionals which concludes with an opportunity to observe Cuba's annual International Tourism Fair.

It will cover the most common destinations currently offered by People to People licensees in central Cuba, and a few less visited.

If the President opens all non-tourist trips to a general license, and ends the Travel Service Provider monopoly, he will create substantial new business opportunities for the US travel industry.

The total cost from New York for eleven days if we have at least fifteen persons should be about $2000 per person double occupancy (including air via Grand Cayman), plus $205 for a single supplement.  This is about half of the normal cost.  For people not departing from New York, the total cost with departure from Grand Cayman or Cancun should be about $1700.*  Most lunches and dinners, plus tips and incidentals are additional; plan for about $500 (cash only).  If the group is 10 to 14, cost will increase by $100.  If 5 to 9 pax, add $600.

With the generous assistance of Sol Melia, hotel nights in Varadero, Cayo Santa Maria and Havana will be 5 star. Hotels in Trinidad and Cienfuegos are 4 star.  Sancti Spiritus is 3 star.  Breakfast is included at all hotels. 

The draft itinerary:

Mon, Apr 28  (JFK) - Grand Cayman - Havana; bus to Varadero resort (Hotel Melia Varadero--5*)
      Relax, dinner at hotel 

Tues, Apr 29  Matanzas Province;
     Marina  (one hour to see new facilities)
     San Severino fortress and slavery museum
     Ediciones Vijias hand made books
     Triunvirato slave rebellion memorial 
     San Miguel de los Banos
     Xanadu Dupont mansion (for drinks)
     Dinner at hotel  

Wed, Apr 30  Santa Clara
      Che memorial
      Remedios: visit old style hotels and the Catholic church  
      Hotel Melia Cayo Santa Maria--5*  

 Thur, May 1  Sancti Spiritus colonial city       (Hotel Del Rio--3*)
       Visit to Nunez Jimenez Foundation and organic farm service learning project 
       Dinner on own

Fri, May 2 Trinidad world heritage colonial city (Hotel La Ronda--4*)
       Museum and walking tour with the architect Victor Echenaguzia
       Lunch at restaurant Plaza Mayor 
       Optional visit to pottery workshop Casa del Alfarero Santander
       dinner and music on own
Sat, May 3  Cienfuegos  (Hotel La Union or Jagua--4*) 
        Jardin Botanico
        Lunch at paladar with friends from University of Cienfuegos  
        Walking tour of Cienfuegos city center, Terry Theater, print workshop
        Choral group
        Dinner at paladar Finca Los Colorados

Sun, May 4  bus to Havana (Melia Cohiba--5*)
         Lunch at Casa de la Amistad 
         Welcome to Havana by Amistur
         Presentation on tourism by Tony Diaz, University of Havana
         Check in at hotel
         Dinner at private cafe next to theater Arenal   
         Opera de la Calle (Opera of the Streets)

Mon, May 5 
          Briefing on social/economic change at Melia Cohiba hotel 
          Regla dual faith church, presentation on Santaria, NSila cheche afro-cuban dance program
          Ferry across the bay
          Lunch at paladar  Dona Eutima, Plaza de la Cathedral
          Havana Vieja   lecture at model of city by architect Miguel Coyula
          Artisan market
          Dinner at Arte Chef with mojito demonstration
          Cultural options:  Habana Café, Jazz Café; bar crawl in Habana Vieja; salsa; Buena Vista Social
               Club style music; Tropicana, etc.

Tues, May 6  Havana 
            FIT + ??
           Cultural options:  Habana Café, Jazz Café; bar crawl in Habana Vieja; salsa; Buena Vista Social
               Club style music; Tropicana, etc.

Weds, May 7  Havana
FIT + ??
           Dinner at Atelier
           Cultural options:  Habana Café, Jazz Café; bar crawl in Habana Vieja; salsa; Buena Vista Social
               Club style music; Tropicana, etc.

Thur, May 8  Havana - Grand Cayman - New York  (6 a.m. departure)

Tuesday and Wednesday will depend on schedule of International Tourism Fair, but should include:
    -- Finca Vijia with conversation
    --  visits to hotels (Nacional, Habana Libre, Parque Central, Capri, ¿?)
    --  Fuster community art project
    --  Amistur suggestión of social/educational/health institution
    --  Choice between Museum of Art and Museum of the Revolution

    --  Discussion at hotel of US-Cuba relations with Carlos Alzugaray and Lynn Roche / USINT 

There will be an opportunity in Havana to meet counterparts from Canada and Europe attending the International Tourism Fair, an annual event where they plan programs for the next year.

Flights from and to Grand Cayman


KX 832
Apr 28
01:20 PM

Apr 28
03:20 PM


KX 835
May 08
06:00 AM

May 08
06:00 AM

alternate return (may require overnight)

KX 833
May 08
04:20 PM

May 08
04:20 PM

May 4-8  An abbreviated Havana only trip will total about $1500 from New York, or $1200 from Grand Cayman or Cancun.   If the group is 10 to 14, cost will increase by $50.  If 5 to 9 pax, add $300.

Why this route?  There is a very good connection now from New York through Grand Cayman four days a week that we want to strengthen.  The expense of Cayman-Havana is almost $200 less than Miami-Havana, including a reduced visa cost and much better weight allowance.  There is also a level of uncertainty about visas for the charter flights due to a banking problem resulting from US policy.  At the end of the day, I think it will be solved, but I want to avoid uncertainty.  By not using a TSP (necessary for a Miami departure) the cost is also reduced, while being completely permitted by US regulations for licensed travelers.  Participants who prefer to go directly to Grand Cayman, should arrange flights arriving from the US by 11 a.m., or the day before.  

Flying from Cancun at 2:05 p.m. is also possible, with arrival from the US by 11 a.m. or the day before.


April 21-27  Immediately preceding the FAM, is participation in an Irish heritage / celtic festival program under development.    This should also cost around $2000 door to door from New York ($1700 from Grand Cayman or Cancun) because we are using bed and breakfasts.

In many ways it is a preview of a more formal hotel based program in November which should appeal to Irish American clients.

For further information about these trips and a registration form, contact John McAuliff,  917-859-9025

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