Saturday, December 31, 2011

Arizona Chambers of Commerce Sponsor Trips

Tempe, Glendale chambers to sponsor 9-day trip to Cuba

December 31, 2011 |


Tempe, Glendale groups help coordinate rare tour

by Luci Scott - Dec. 31, 2011 05:43 PM
The Arizona Republic

Arizonans have an opportunity to join a rare group visit to Cuba.

The Tempe and Glendale chambers of commerce are sponsoring a nine-day trip leaving Phoenix on July 12.

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 Cuba.

"What struck them is that Cuba 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.

"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 Tempe are a little bit more adventurous, and tours for places they wouldn't normally be able to travel themselves might be interesting," Miller said.

Among Arizonans hoping to go is Glendale Chamber President Don Rinehart, whose bucket list includes a trip to Cuba, where classic, vintage cars line the streets.

"I love the Caribbean, and I've always wanted to go to Cuba," he said. "I'm a '50s fanatic and would love to go see those cars again."

Bob Guild, vice president of Marazul Charters in North Bergen, N.J., has been to Cuba more than 40 times and raves about it.

"Cuba's a huge island with a very rich cultural life, deep history and a lot in common with the U.S.," he said.

"Most of what people have heard about Cuba is wrong. People think Cuba is very isolated. It is not."

Cuba has received 2.5 million visitors from other countries in 2011, and Cubans have traveled.

"When you meet with a Cuban who has, for instance, been a health worker in South Africa in a rural area that has never had a doctor, it's very moving," Guild said.

"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 Cuba was eased, tour groups have quickly filled.

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 Havana 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.

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 and click on the Events tab. To register, contact Mary Ann Miller at 480-967-7891 or

Read more:

TSP: Cuba Tours and Travel

Cuba Tours and Travel ("CTT") is a licensed Travel Service Provider TSP under the US Treasury Department, Office Of Foreign Asset Control OFAC. We are licensed to provide travel services to pre-authorized travelers. Cuba Tours and Travel is a full-service agency that has been in continuous existence for over a decade. CTT is a pioneer in the field of high-level, expert-driven cultural travel to Cuba.  We have extensive contacts in Cuba’s travel and cultural sector, and are therefore uniquely suited to offer you the finest in-depth program focusing on art, architecture, historic preservation, Religion, music, dance, and other cultural interests. We are also very knowledgeable of environmental sustainability issues in Cuba and strive to provide knowledge about this sector.

Travel Experts

We are Cuba travel experts with many years of experience in providing travel services to individuals and groups. We work closely with our clients to ensure that their expectations are met. We pride ourselves in providing excellent customer service.

If you are an individual, we will make all of your arrangements. If you are an institution or group, we would like to be able offer you our long-term experience in designing a program suited to your institution’s needs.

We would work with you hand-in-hand to plan and promote your trip and provide seamless management of the travel program. We have developed a state-of-the-art on-line sign-up system and an efficient on-line management and monitoring program for your use during the life of the trip. And we have very high quality customer service to work with you and all of the travelers that will participate.

We look forward to working with you to experience Cuba!

Cuba Tours and Travel is devoted to providing you with memorable cultural and educational travel opportunities in Cuba. We have over ten years experience in Cuban travel related activities. This legal travel service fully complies with the strict guidelines of US Law.

Cuba Tours and Travel will provide you with great service as you plan your trip and while you are in Cuba. We work with a wonderful team of expert guides, scholars, musicologists, film experts, artists, and educators in Cuba as well as in the States who will work closely with you to insure that your trip will be fulfilling.

We also feel that culture is one of the most important bridges to build mutual understanding between Cuba and the United States.

Our general areas of focus are the visual arts, architecture and historic preservation, music, journalism, theatre, film, folk arts, Afro-Cuban religion and culture, and sports. We welcome all artists, athletes, academic researchers, full-time professionals, journalists, photographers, filmmakers, and university and secondary school students who are eligible for a “general license” under US Law’s travel affidavit. We especially welcome Cuban-Americans who travel for family visits to Cuba.

If you are not eligible for a general license, we will assist you in getting a specific license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

Cuba Tours and Travel can arrange custom individual or group travel, or you can join in some of the select events and conferences for general or specific licensed travelers. We offer round-trip airfare from Miami, Los Angeles or New York; a Cuban visa, US general license forms, hotel accommodations with breakfast, and transfers. Custom study programs are priced in addition to basic travel costs based on your interests and desires. If you are traveling for a conference or event, modest participation costs are listed with each event.

To start planning your trip, please contact us through our website or by e-mail  by clicking on these links and tell us what you want to do in your program, how many are traveling, and the dates of your travel.

Cuba Tours And Travel
320 Pine Ave. Suite 503
Long BeachCA 90802

P 888-225-6439 
F 562-684-0174

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Success for Friendly Planet P2P Tours

Friendly Planet sees 'phenomenal response' to Cuba tours

By Gay Nagle Myers, Travel Weekly

Friendly Planet, the latest entrant in the people-to-people cultural programs to Cuba, already has sold out many departures on its two programs, is adding more departures and has a third itinerary under development.

“I knew there was interest in Cuba, but I did not think it would be this strong,” said Friendly Planet President Peggy Goldman. “We’ve had a phenomenal response, with many bookings coming from our repeat customers from all over the U.S.

The five-day Discover Havana program offers 17 departures, which run from Jan. 18 through Dec. 5.

Nine departures already are sold out; the price starts at $2,399 per person, double, including roundtrip air from Miami to Havana. The starting rate drops to $2,099 if booked by Jan. 25.

All eight departures through May are sold out on the eight-day Colors of Cuba itinerary. Goldman said there is space on the Sept. 23 departure, priced from $3,199 ($2,799 if booked by Jan. 25).

While Friendly Planet’s itineraries are similar in content to those offered on other people-to-people programs, there are some “unique aspects,” according to Goldman.

“We travel on an ancient steam train through some of the villages near Trinidad in central Cuba,” Goldman said. “The train stops in these villages so our participants can meet and interact with the locals.”

Another stop is made in the mountainous community of Las Terrazas in western Pinar del Rio province, where the tour group has the opportunity to talk with local residents about the sustainable tourism development efforts that are under way in the region.

“The Cuban people are hungry for contact with Americans, and vice versa,” Goldman said. “We will add as many departures as we can get space for, based on the amount of available hotel inventory. The dearth of accommodations does keep a lid on the number of departures.”

Friendly Planet operated some humanitarian programs to Cuba in 2010, “but the people-to-people programs are new for us, and already we have seen great interest and demand,” Goldman said.



Friendly Planet is to be congratulated for its success.  Its work will contribute to desperately needed mutual understanding.

However, their programs and others undertaken by for profit tour operators are an illustration of the opaque and discriminatory process of licensing by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.  All American group travel to Cuba is similar because only three ground operators are authorized to work with us as a result of the underlying regime change agenda still dominating Washington.

Yet some organizations receive licenses and others do not.  Objectively there are no differences about what they can offer, so other factors must be involved.

The Obama Administration has opened the door much less than it could.

  • Every American is entitled to a general license for self-directed non-tourist travel to Cuba, not just Cuban Americans. 
  • Every travel agency and tour operator should be able to sell to authorized travelers not just 250 mostly Cuban American mostly Florida Travel Service Providers. 
  • Every IRS registered not-for-profit and third party provider of study abroad programs deserves a general license for group travel, not just universities and religious organizations.
  • Every American should be free to organize (and attend) educational and professional conferences in Cuba, not just a university for its own staff and students.

John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

Friday, December 23, 2011

Fresno Chamber of Commerce Trip in June

The Fresno Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Explorations have announced plans to “Discover Cuba” in June 2012 in a new opportunity for local residents to see the island.
Chamber Explorations is a division of Premier World Discovery, a Redondo Beach-based company that focuses on world travel. The White House greatly expanded Cuba travel for Americans earlier this year, and specific licenses issued by the Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control authorize registered guests of programs such as the Chamber’s to visit Cuba legally. It will be the Chamber's first time offering a trip to the island.
“We’ve had a few calls in the last couple of weeks,” said Angela Vasquez, event coordinator for the Chamber. “In the next two weeks, we’ll get a lot of interest.”

On Thursday, Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a presentation on Discover Cuba at the Fresno Chamber of Commerce. Vasquez said there was “a group of usuals” who would make the trip, but there were still spots available.

The cost is $3,799 per person, double occupancy, with a $600 supplement for those who wish to have their own room. The fee includes round trip airfare from LAX, a Cuban Travel Visa, Cuban Health Insurance, 8 nights of first class hotel accommodations, 21 meals, sightseeing and admissions, a professional Cuban bilingual host/guide, hotel and airport transfers and baggage handling, and transportation by deluxe air conditioned motorcoach.

Anyone interested in the June 12 trip is asked to call the Fresno Chamber of Commerce to reserve a spot at (559) 495-4800 or email for a brochure.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Grand Circle Foundation P2P Programs

Cuba: A Bridge Between Cultures 

By Invitation Only: Be among the first Americans to visit Cuba on an historic People-to-People program, available only through
Grand Circle Foundation

As Americans, the mystique surrounding Cuba has been ingrained in our psyche for decades—from the tropical paradise that inspired Hemingway to the Cold War catastrophes that strained our relations beyond repair. How has life evolved behind the invisible wall of the embargo? Would we ever have the chance to see for ourselves?
We at Grand Circle Foundation are in a unique position to offer you that chance—at a pivotal moment in history for the people of Cuba, who are facing both hopes and fears in the midst of major government reforms. The Foundation has just been granted a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to offer People-to-People programs to Cuba—and Foundation supporters are legally eligible to travel to Cuba under this license.
Because space is extremely limited, we are inviting only our very best Foundation supporters to join us on a full range of departure dates through June, 2012.

A fully licensed, "People-to-People" experience

We'll experience the real Cuba through authentic encounters with its people.
The focus of our experience, as our license's "People-to-People" categorization implies, will be meaningful cultural exchange with the people of Cuba—who we think you'll find to be warm, welcoming, and eager to interact with Americans. At Grand Circle Foundation, we aim to change people's lives, and that includes both the travelers who will be joining us in Cuba, and the people who we'll meet when we get there. As we come face to face with a culture that is undergoing major reforms, we will serve as agents of positive change by listening, encouraging, and openly sharing our viewpoints and ideas. We see this program as an important first step toward bringing a better understanding between the United States and Cuba.

Program Overview

You will be responsible for making your own travel arrangements to Miami, where our group meets for one overnight before flying together to Havana the next day.
We will center our People-to-People visits in these three Cuban cities. You can view our planned program here. However, please note that this is a representative itinerary, and that features are subject to change as availability is controlled by the Cuban government.
Truly unique among Caribbean cities, Havana is a beauty with personality.
Havana (5 nights): Cuba's bustling capital is in the midst of a decades-long, multimillion dollar restoration project, which will ensure that its wealth of historic buildings will endure for centuries to come. But beyond the blend of baroque, colonial, and Art Deco architecture, Havana possesses a unique cultural energy that has evolved over 500 years of tumultuous history. We'll hear it in the music, see it in the artwork, and experience it firsthand during planned meetings with local people. To ensure a well-rounded view of this fascinating city, our five nights in Havana will be divided into two separate stays: 3 nights in the historic Old Town, and 2 nights in the vibrant commercial and entertainment center of Vedado.
Cienfuegos (2 nights): Known as La Perla del Sud ("the Pearl of the South") for its gleaming harbor area and dignified ambiance, Cienfuegos is celebrated by UNESCO as a premiere example of 19th-century Latin American urban planning. Its prime location on Cuba's southern Caribbean coast is both stunning and strategic, as the seaport here is central to the country's sugar, coffee, and tobacco trades. We'll experience the city's beauty through the eyes of the artists who call it home, and they will learn firsthand about the openness, kindness, and curiosity of the American people.
Trinidad (3 nights): Also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Trinidad is a colonial gem that recalls life in Cuba's 19th-century glory days. While the historic center is only a few square blocks in size, it boasts some of Cuba's most beautiful architecture—including cobbled streets, pastel-colored houses, charming plazas, and old palaces. It is also the gateway to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, home to some 70 historic mill structures and an enduring reminder of the importance of sugar to Cuba's economy. In Trinidad, we'll meet local craftspeople as well as budding entrepreneurs, and share our ideas and experiences with them.

Reservations can only be made through Grand Circle Foundation:
(toll-free) 1-855-423-3443

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chicago's Hedwig Dances Heading for Cuba

Chicago Dance Company Prepares For Tour Of, Artistic Exchange With Cuba

Chicago contemporary dance company Hedwig Dances has long been a staple of the local performing arts scene. The dance company in residence at the Chicago Cultural Center since 1992, the company is known for their theatrical, interdisciplinary work.

But wanting to take their work a step further, the company, under the direction of its co-founder and artistic director Jan Bartoszek, has an ambitious project on their hands: A tour of Havana, Cuba, an artistic exchange with a local dance company there and the creation of a film documenting that tour.

The 2012 Cuba Tour, set to depart in late January 2012, will offer a chance for the company and its guests to get a sense of the energy and passion that permeate the dancing traditions of Havana as they visit the training ground of Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and learn more about the dancers' experiences and backgrounds.

HuffPost Chicago interviewed Bartoszek about her company's fundraising as part of our "Can They Kick It?" series.

HP: How long has this tour been in the works? What prompted the idea?

JB: About a year ago, we started talking about it because I have four dancers in my company who are from Cuba that I'd worked with. I know the touring company and the people in it and they've gone to Cuba eight times. I thought we should do this and center the work around dance and set up an exchange with a Cuban dance company. It is a person-to-person artistic tour that focuses on dance and is being led by Art Encounter. Things are starting to loosen up a little bit and there's a lot of interest right now in Cuba because it had been kind of closed off for so long from the United States. We're taking 28 people with us to show them the dance of Cuba.
My senior company members, Victor Alexander and Maray Gutierrez, have been dancing with me for nine-and-a-half years and will be going on the tour. They grew up dancing in the Escuela Nacional de Arte and they're the perfect candidates to lead a tour there because they know all of the people there. I can't tell you how excited I am to go!

In terms of the exchange between your company and the Cuban company, what do you most hope your dancers will pick up from the Cubans?

We're most interested in contemporary dance here, but contemporary dance in Cuba is very influenced by ethnographic dance and African dance specifically. The arts have been really well cultivated in Cuba -- dance artists are probably tantamount to our athletes and rock musicians there. Everybody knows what's happening at the ballet. Alicia Alonso went down there and set up a platform in dance in the sugarcane fields. Danza Contemporanea de Cuba, the company my students danced with, dance all over the world and they have a lot of international choreographers working with them. They're very much in the loop of international dance and it's actually quite sophisticated work they're doing that's both developing the choreography there in Cuba, but also showing works by European and Asian choreographers, in addition to other Latin American choreographers. I'm also very excited to see the street dance, which I think will be really interesting. Cuba is alive with dance and I think it is a really central part of culture there, from what I understand.

On the flip side of that, what do you hope the Cuban dancers can learn from your company members?

I think that we have developed sort of a unique perspective in our integration of many disciplines into dance. We focus on working from the inside out and we plan to share that with this company in Cuba. We also do a lot of partnering and work a lot with giving and taking weight away from each other.

How long have you been involved with Hedwig Dances and how does this tour fit into the larger picture for your company?

I'm the founder and artistic director of the 27-year-old company. We've been in residence at the Cultural Center for 20 years. This is our first international artistic tour and we're planning on cultivating this in a way that sets up an exchange that continues over time. We hope to also, once we establish it with Cuban artists, try to do that with other countries as well. This is a new endeavor for us.

One of our bloggers wrote recently about the explosion of American interest in contemporary dance due to "So You Think You Can Dance" and other reality competition shows. Why do you think dance is finding a new resonance, in a lot of ways, with Americans today?

I think that it's very interesting to me as a sort of phenomenon that sort of happens as we become more and more of a communications culture that is kind of distanced from person-to-person communication. We don't call anyone anymore, you text or e-mail. We used to pick up the phone and call people, and there's less and less contact like that. Real human contact. I think dance provides that. It's one of the things about dance that's so amazing if you give yourself to it: It's so physical and it's about the whole person -- the body, the spirit and the mind -- in action. That is missing in so many other ways in our culture.

New Orleans Editorial Applauds Tulane Program

Tulane University's program in Cuba a positive step: An editorial

Published: Friday, December 16, 2011, 8:57 AM

By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune

New Orleans has long historical and cultural ties to Cuba. That is partly why Tulane University ran a summer abroad program in Cuba from 1999 until 2004, when the Bush administration restricted academic access to the island.

President Barack Obama reversed that policy earlier this year, and that's allowing Tulane to once more offer its summer program to students. That's a welcome development that should increase New Orleans' ties to the island.

It's important, however, that the Obama administration pursues the necessary policy shift toward Cuba and ends the decades-old embargo on that nation.

The Tulane program will allow students to earn credits in courses in English and Spanish during the four-week annual program set to resume next summer at the University of Havana. Organizers are hoping to send 20 students next year.

Tulane's Cibam and Caribbean Studies Institute is offering the program in collaboration with the University of Havana and the Centro de Estudios Hemisfericos de los Estados Unidos.

The program benefited from the latest in a series of policy changes President Obama has made to increase relationships with the island, particularly between families and non-governmental entities.

Earlier this year, the administration began allowing charter flights to and from Cuba from nine U.S. airports, including Louis Armstrong International in Kenner. The administration has also eased commerce and educational trips and decided to let American telecommunications companies do business in Cuba. Just as important, the Treasury Department in January allowed Western Union to begin paying remittances from the United States in pesos instead of dollars, saving recipients the 10 percent charge the Cuban government had imposed to exchange dollars to pesos.

Like Tulane University's program, these other developments are positive steps to reinstate ties between our nation and Cuba. But these are all small moves. Ending the ineffective embargo has long been the meaningful change that's needed.

The U.S. has to maintain a clear goal for its policy to Cuba: for the Cuban government to end the oppression of its people and to give them a meaningful say in their government by allowing freedom of expression, freeing political prisoners and holding free, multi-party elections.

But in almost 50 years, the embargo has done nothing or very little to advance those goals. Even measures by Congress to tighten the embargo in the early 1990s have failed to accomplish the proponents' goal of bringing down the Cuban regime. To the contrary, the embargo has contributed to the poverty of many Cubans and reduced our nation's ability to bring about change in the island.

The U.S. trade and political relationship with the oppressive regime in China has been a far more effective way to push for democratic change in that nation -- and the same strategy should be used in Cuba.

In the meantime, even relatively small programs like Tulane's are important ways to help erode the barriers that separate our two countries.

© 2011 All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Lynn University Student Trip

Lynn University sending first students to Cuba
By Scott Travis, Sun Sentinel

7:59 p.m. EST, December 15, 2011

Most people only read about Hemingway's Cuba. Some Lynn University students will get to live it as part of a travel opportunity not available to most students.

Twelve students and three university employees plan to leave Jan. 6 for a five-night journey to the island as part of a course called "Hemingway's Cuba." The trip is to explore the fishing villages, houses and other places Ernest Hemingway wrote about in "The Old Man and the Sea" and other novels.

"You have Europeans and people outside the United States visit there all the time, but it hasn't been open to us, which makes it even more interesting," said Andrew Lippi, 21, of Key West.  But students won't do much sightseeing, because of requirements that the trip maintain a focused academic mission and not be for tourism.

"We're sticking to Hemingway. That's the way it has to be," said Jeff Morgan, an English professor who is organizing the trip.

Lynn is able to travel to Cuba for the first time, after the Obama administration expanded travel opportunities for students earlier this year.

But students at public universities and community colleges probably won't get the same chance anytime soon. Florida passed a law in 2006 banning publicly funded institutions from traveling to countries designated as "state sponsors of terrorism," and Cuba is on that list.

While travelers to Cuba have faced restrictions for a half-century, it became almost impossible for students to visit after 2004, when President George W. Bush tightened restrictions. Students could travel only for semester-long visits. As a result, just 250 U.S. students traveled to Cuba in 2007-08, down from 2,100 four years before, the Association of International Educators reported.

In January, President Barack Obama relaxed the policy so students at accredited institutions could travel to Cuba so long as it was for a for-credit class, regardless of the length of stay.

Gainesville-based Holbrook Travel has organized trips for a number of schools, including the University of Richmond in Virginia, Eastern Illinois University, Whittier College in California and the University of South Carolina. or 561-243-6637 or 954-425-1421

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chamber of Commerce in Florida Organizes P2P Trip

Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011


Manatee chamber offers cultural trip to Cuba

Interest high in the island country

 - Special to the Herald

BRADENTON -- This spring, a group of local travelers will be walking in the footsteps of Hemmingway during the day and practicing their salsa moves at night.
They will be part of a nine-day trip starting April 26 to Cuba offered by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. The trip, with space for 30 people, costs $3,299 per person.
Carey Miller, office administrator at the chamber and trip coordinator, said the tour was picked because of the interest in traveling to the island since the relaxation of the travel and trade restrictions earlier this year.

It is part of the Travel with the Chamber program started about 1½ years ago as a chamber fundraiser, Miller said, with a trip to China.
Because that trip was so popular -- more than 100 people went -- the chamber decided to offer trips every six months.
“There was an interest to go to Cuba,” Miller said.
The trip starts with a short flight from Miami to Havana, Cuba’s capital, where travelers will be given a quick orientation before being given a guided tour of the city markets, churches and museums
“With the U.S. government opening up travel to Cuba with its People-to-People Program, this will be more of a cultural trip,” said Jacki Dezelski, chamber vice president of East County and community development.
“I think this will be one of our more popular trips because travel to Cuba has been so restrictive in the past.”
A highlight of the trip is traveling to the four United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Heritage Sites of Old Havana, Cienfuegos, Trinidad and Sugar Mill Valley, Miller said.
Cuba is not only difficult to get to as a destination, but people feel more comfortable traveling with a group,” she said.
Travel for U.S. citizens to Cuba has become easier since President Barack Obama authorized people-to-people exchanges at the beginning of this year.
“Bolstering ties to Cuba is very import to the Tampa Bay area,” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, who has been in the forefront of the fight to open the island nation for travelers.
“There are dramatic changes happening on the island of Cuba,” Castor said. “People can now buy and sell property and cars, and the trend (toward a more open economy) will continue.”
The congresswoman said Port Manatee and the Port of Tampa could see more business with agricultural product shipments.
Steve Tyndal, senior director trade development and special projects for Port Manatee, said new port director Carlos Buqueras arrives in early January and has expressed an interest in the Cuban issue.
“Once he gets here, I’m sure we’ll explore all options,” Tyndal said.
Castor said the area also will benefit now that Tampa International Airport is designated as one of the airports permitted to offer flights to the island.
“With the relaxation of travel restrictions to Cuba for families,” she said, “the opportunity is great for Tampa International Airport to build on the Gateway concept.”
Three charter airlines began offering four flights a week from Tampa to Cuba in September, said Janet Zink, director of communications for Tampa International Airport.
Tampa is one of only two airports in the country that fly to two different cities in Cuba, Zink said. Three land in Havana, and one goes to Holquin.
“The flights are selling very well,” she said.
“By the end of the year about 9,000 people will have taken advantage of these flights.”
Zink said she believes the flights have been so popular because of pent up demand.
“Previously, area Cuban Americans didn’t have that easy connection,” she said. “They would have had to travel to Miami, which precluded them from traveling to Cuba.”
For more information about the Manatee Chamber of Commerce trip to Cuba visit the chamber web site at: or call Miller at 941-745-1877 or send an email to

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chamber Explorations Offers Tours

Discover Cuba

Journey to Cuba and discover delightful people, unique history, and beautiful landscapes.   Become part of a privileged few and legally travel to the island nation.
Chamber Explorations has been issued a specific license by The Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), which authorizes registered guests of our programs to visit Cuba legally. There are no applications to complete, and your travel with us is fully authorized. Prior to departure, you will receive a copy of our Specific License and a Letter of Authorization which legalizes your travel to Cuba.
Departing March-October 2012 (9 days/8 nights)
  • #
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Program Price Includes:

  • • Round trip air
  • • Eight nights in first class hotels
  • • 19 meals
  • • People to People interactions with Cuban citizens
  • • Baggage handling/airport transfers
  • • Professional drivers/guides
  • • Modern air conditioned motor coaches
  • • Cuba entry visa (Tourist Card)
  • • Cuban medical insurance
This program is operated by Chamber Explorations.


  • Old Havana (UNESCO)
  • Cathedral de la Havana
  • Museo Fine Arts
  • Pinar Del Rio Vinales
  • Prehistoric Painted Caves
  • Cienfuegos (UNESCO)
  • Jagua Castle
  • Trinidad (UNESCO)
  • Church of Trinidad
  • Sugar Mill Valley (UNESCO)
  • Partagas Cigar Factory
  • Playa Giron/Bay of Pigs Museum
  • Hemingway's Farm – Finca La Vigia
  • Cojimar Fishing Village


  • La Marketa de Havana
  • Las Terrazas Cooperative Village
  • Salsa Dancing Lessons
  • Pottery Studio Visit & Demonstration
  • Bay of Pigs Museum
  • Santeria Religious Center
  • Callejon de Hamel
  • Cuban Literacy Museum
  • Cuban School/Daycare