Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2011
Manatee chamber offers cultural trip to Cuba
Interest high in the island country
- Special to the Herald
They will be part of a nine-day trip starting April 26 to
offered by the Manatee Chamber of Commerce. The trip, with space for 30 people, costs $3,299 per person. Cuba
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
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
,” Miller said. Cuba
The trip starts with a short flight from
Miami to ’s capital, where travelers will be given a quick orientation before being given a guided tour of the city markets, churches and museums Havana, Cuba
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 and community development. East County
“I think this will be one of our more popular trips because travel to
has been so restrictive in the past.” Cuba
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 , Miller said. Sugar Mill Valley
is not only difficult to get to as a destination, but people feel more comfortable traveling with a group,” she said. Cuba
U.S. citizens to has become easier since President Barack Obama authorized people-to-people exchanges at the beginning of this year. Cuba
“Bolstering ties to
Cuba is very import to the 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. Tampa Bay
“There are dramatic changes happening on the
,” Castor said. “People can now buy and sell property and cars, and the trend (toward a more open economy) will continue.” island of Cuba
The congresswoman said Port Manatee and the
could see more business with agricultural product shipments. Port of Tampa
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
is designated as one of the airports permitted to offer flights to the island. Tampa International Airport
“With the relaxation of travel restrictions to
Cuba for families,” she said, “the opportunity is great for to build on the Gateway concept.” Tampa International Airport
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
“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
visit the chamber web site at: www.manateechamber.com/cuba.pdf or call Miller at 941-745-1877 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Cuba