December 31, 2011 |
by Luci Scott - Dec. 31, 2011 05:43 PM
Arizonans have an opportunity to join a rare group visit to
Tempe and Glendale chambers of commerce are sponsoring a nine-day trip leaving on July 12. Phoenix
The tour was organized by a California-based travel agency, Chamber Explorations, which received permission from the U.S. Treasury Department.
"People who take this trip are going to see quite a bit; it's a very inclusive itinerary," said Aphrodite Pastroumasa, district sales manager for the travel agency.
Her colleagues have traveled to
"What struck them is that
is the only place on Earth they've been to that doesn't have a Starbucks or a McDonald's," she said. "It gave them a frozen-in-time feeling. Cuba
"That's what has been appealing to everyone, to be able to go somewhere that's not been marred by gross consumerism."
The trip is allowed under a "people-to-people" license. They were created by President Clinton and stopped by President George W. Bush. Restrictions were eased in 2011 by President Obama.
Because of an economic embargo in place for five decades, the
U.S. prohibits citizens from spending money in Cuba, with a few exceptions, and from paying for a flight there, although they have flown from other countries, such as Mexico and . Canada
Mary Ann Miller, president and CEO of the Tempe Chamber, said the trip has sparked plenty of interest.
"I think people in
are a little bit more adventurous, and tours for places they wouldn't normally be able to travel themselves might be interesting," Miller said. Tempe
Among Arizonans hoping to go is Glendale Chamber President Don Rinehart, whose bucket list includes a trip to
, where classic, vintage cars line the streets. Cuba
"I love the Caribbean, and I've always wanted to go to
," he said. "I'm a '50s fanatic and would love to go see those cars again." Cuba
Bob Guild, vice president of Marazul Charters in
North Bergen, N.J., has been to more than 40 times and raves about it. Cuba
Cuba's a huge island with a very rich cultural life, deep history and a lot in common with the ," he said. U.S.
"Most of what people have heard about
is wrong. People think Cuba is very isolated. It is not." Cuba
"When you meet with a Cuban who has, for instance, been a health worker in
in a rural area that has never had a doctor, it's very moving," Guild said. South Africa
"Tens of thousands of Cubans have delivered health services around the world, and it's not something we hear about at all."
Guild said it's bizarre that the
U.S. restricts travel to Cuba but not to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, China, Vietnam or . Saudi Arabia
Since travel to
was eased, tour groups have quickly filled. Cuba
National Geographic scheduled a dozen trips for 30 people each. By the end of the weekend of the announcement, all groups were filled. A dozen more groups were planned, and those are nearly filled as well, Guild said.
On the trip sponsored by the
Tempe and Glendale chambers, some of the sights in will include the Cathedral de la Havana, the Museo Fine Arts, the Museo de la Revolucion that displays historical documents and artifacts and La Marketa de Havana in Old Havana, a collective of small-craft workers. Havana
Among other sites will be author Ernest Hemingway's farm and Playa Giron/
. Bay of Pigs Museum
The cost is $3,874 per person double with a $600 single supplement. Price includes airfare, visa, eight nights in first-class hotels and 19 meals.
For details, visit tempechamber.org and click on the Events tab. To register, contact Mary Ann Miller at 480-967-7891 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read more: http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/business/articles/2011/12/28/20111228tempe-glendale-chambers-sponsor-trip-cuba.html#ixzz1iAwL282j