Wednesday, June 22, 2011

US Second Largest Source of Cuba Visitors

Cuba reports more Americans visit forbidden island

    * U.S. travel to Cuba up 20 percent in 2010
    * Americans join flood of Cuban Americans visiting homeland
    * U.S. now second tourism provider despite sanctions

    By Marc Frank

    HAVANA, June 22 (Reuters) - The number of Americans visiting their country's long-time foe Cuba is steadily increasing under the Obama administration, according to Cuban government figures, with the highest number in years likely in 2011.

    Some 63,000 U.S. citizens visited Cuba in 2010, up from  52,500 the previous year and 41,900 in 2008, according to a report by the National Statistics Office (

   U.S. citizens are forbidden from traveling to Cuba without their government's permission under a wide-ranging trade embargo against the island imposed nearly five decades ago.

    In the years following Cuba's 1959 revolution the highest known number of U.S. visitors peaked at 70,000 under U.S. President Bill Clinton, then dropped to an average of 30,000 in the last term of U.S. President George W. Bush.

    The 2010 numbers do not include 350,000 Cuban Americans estimated by travel providers and U.S. diplomats to have come to the island last year. Because Cuba considers them nationals, they are not listed in tourism statistics except within the broader category of "other."

    In 2009, Obama gave Cuban Americans a green light to visit their homeland at will and in January loosened restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba for professional, religious and humanitarian reasons.

    The combined figures of U.S. travelers and Cuban Americans made the United States Cuba's second-largest tourism provider after Canada.

    Before the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro in power, Cuba used to be an American playground, with hundreds of thousands of Americans visiting to gamble and have a good time.

    But since the early 1960s, few have made the trip due to a general travel ban imposed by a U.S. trade embargo against the island.


    The current rise in U.S. visitors is a result of the Obama administration loosening travel restrictions to Cuba to encourage more "people to people" contact in hopes of aiding political change on the communist-ruled island 90 miles (145 km) from Florida.

    As well as allowing Cuban Americans to travel to Cuba freely, Obama also authorized the issuing of licenses to more Cuba travel providers and allowed more airports to give charter service between the two countries.

    Travel providers report they are swamped, despite delays in implementing the measures, and forecast more than 100,000 Americans not of Cuban descent will come to the forbidden island this year.

    "In 2010, Marazul sent over 3,500 people to Cuba for academic, professional, religious and humanitarian reasons, as well as performing arts and sports groups," said Bob Guild, vice president of Miami-based Marazul Charters.

    "This year, we have already sent close to this number and, if the new people to people educational licenses begin to be issued soon by the Treasury Department, we project more than 10,000 people in 2011 traveling through Marazul under the new revised legal categories, not including people visiting their families," he said.

     Cuba has said it had 2.53 million tourists in 2010 with Canada the largest provider at nearly 945,000, followed by Britain at 174,000 and Italy at 112,000.

    According to official figures, overall tourism was up 11.3 percent through May, compared with the same period last year.

    (Editing by Jeff Franks and Cynthia Osterman)

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cuban Organizations for Potential Visits and Partnership

Mass membership organizations

Association of Young Writers and Artists
Cuban Institute for Friendship with the Peoples (ICAP)
Federation of Cuban Women (FMC)
Federation of University Students (FEU)
National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP)
National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC)
Workers' Central Union of Cuba (CTC)

Non-governmental organizations

Asociacion Yoruba  Santaria culture and religion
Christian Center for Reflection and Dialog  will visit in Cardenas 
Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez  de la Naturaleza y el Hombre environment, conservation, sustainable development
Fundacion Fernando Ortiz  social sciences, culture
Fundacion Ludwig exchange programs in the arts
Martin Luther King Center  popular education, community development
Palabra Nueva Journal of the Archdiocese of Havana

Research organizations

Casa de las Americas  arts and culture
Center for Investigation of the World Economy (CIEM)
Center for the Study of the Cuban Economy (CEEC)
Center for the Study of the US (CESEU)
National Botanic Garden
Temas  magazine of culture, ideology and society

Cultural calendars

Local list  (has pages for all arts)

Comprehensive list of recognized organizations

Monday, June 6, 2011

ATI Plans People to People Programs

AmericanTours International Offers Educational “People to People” Travel to Cuba

Thursday June 2, 2011, 12:36 pm EDT
ORLANDO, Fla.--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- AmericanTours International (ATI) Chairman and CEO Noel Irwin Hentschel announced Wednesday (1) that “ATI-Study Cuba in Cuba” is now available at “The recent opening of academic travel to Cuba by the Obama administration allows universities to immediately activate study abroad programs with CubaATI,” stated CEO Hentschel, who is completing her thesis research in Havana and Santiago de Cuba.
CubaATI travel specialists work closely with American universities and students to custom design academic travel programs that meet their specifications and are within the legal guidelines of the U.S. Treasury Department (OFAC). Students enrolled for credit in U.S. higher education institutions are now able to participate in “ATI-Study Cuba in Cuba” and may be accompanied by faculty and staff on programs facilitated by CubaATI.
“ATI arranged the first group program in America for MBA students from Vietnam at UCLA. We are pleased with the many academic opportunities ATI offers us,” stated Mr. Nguyen Trung Chinh, Director of ITEC, Vietnam.
The key element in the Cuba travel experience is to work with a licensed, established and reputable travel company with superior destination knowledge and a trusted, reliable network on the ground in Cuba. ATI’s expertise in creating specialized itineraries for the visitors’ precise area of interest and budget, with a focus on “people to people” exchanges, enables individuals or groups to maximize their Cuba experience.
New OFAC rules defining legal travel increases opportunities for Americans to experience Cuba’s historical and cultural venues while participating in programs that currently include educational exchange, religious activities and humanitarian projects. ATI provides all of these travel services through including air, car, coach, hotel and guides across the entire island.
“Since October 2010, it is estimated that 222,000 Cubans have bought licenses to open businesses that include travel related industries such as restaurants and lodging in private homes. Travel to Cuba with AmericanTours International helps to support their entrepreneurial endeavors,” stated Hentschel.
Founded in 1977, AmericanTours International (ATI) ( is the largest privately held American-owned inbound/outbound and domestic travel organization and partner of AAA/CAA clubs, annually serving one million visitors from 70 countries and generating $3 billion into the U.S. economy. ATI is headquartered in Los Angeles and Orlando with offices in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Honolulu and Beijing.