Collette Vacations Reports Strong Demand for Cuba Travel
By David CogswellDemand for travel to Cuba continues to far outpace supply as operators continue to try to find ways to meet demand. Dan Sullivan, president and CEO of Collette Vacations, will travel to Cuba on Jan. 18 and attempt to arrange more spaces for the company’s new tours to Cuba, which was recently put on the market and sold out within weeks. Collette introduced its first tour of Cuba on Dec. 5, and the tour sold out in four days.
Collette received a license from the Department of Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) that permits the company to run tours built around educational exchange activities in Cuba.
Under the authority of the license, clients can legally travel to Cuba with Collette to participate and engage in a schedule of authorized educational exchange activities in Cuba, designed to carry out the Department of Treasury’s mandate to offer programs that involve meaningful interaction between Americans and Cubans. Collette launched a program for that purpose called Rediscover Cuba -- A Cultural Exploration designed to focus on the people of Cuba.
“Cuba represents the educational travel opportunity of a lifetime,” said Sullivan. “I believe it’s a place many American travelers are eager to learn about and the demand we’ve seen proves that.”
Collette’s “People to People” license also allows for stays in the cities of Trinidad and Havana. According to Collette’s product manager for Cuba, Annette Morejon, the itinerary is designed to feature the country’s culture, history and art. “From meeting a Cuban family in their very own paladar (a privately operated restaurant) to visiting an orphanage and meeting the nuns who have dedicated themselves to helping the children, this tour focuses on changing perspectives,” said Morejon.
The program will include a chance to learn about the Botanical Gardens of Cienfuegos and their ties to Harvard University, a visit to the Cuban Fine Arts Museum, a meeting with students of a primary school in Havana, a harbor cruise with local fishermen, a stop at the home of Ernest Hemingway to explore his love of Cuba and its people, and a hands-on pottery class at a ceramic studio during which the owners discuss passing down the traditions from generation to generation. “It’s all about bringing two cultures together,” said Sullivan.
Also continuing to expand its offerings is Ya’lla Tours, which has been offering sanctioned travel to Cuba for nearly a decade. Ya’lla recently unveiled a tour to Cuba to coincide with the planned visit to Cuba in March of Pope Benedict XVI. Ya’lla’s A Catholic Journey to Cuba: Following Pope Benedict XVI Pilgrimage to Cuba will take place March 23 to 28.
The trip will consist of visits in and around Havana, including time at the Convento de Belen, a world-renowned community center and social services facility which serves Havana’s poorest neighborhoods with special focus on the elderly and disabled children. On March 27, the group will attend an open-air Mass with the pope in Havana’s Revolution Square.