Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Portland, OR and Visalia, CA Business Groups

Come visit Cuba, says the Portland Business Alliance. Pack euros, not dollars.

Published: Thursday, February 02, 2012, 2:36 PM     Updated: Thursday, February 02, 2012, 3:16 PM

Communists and capitalists take note: The Portland Business Alliance is offering members the chance to visit Cuba, a nation long difficult for Americans to experience. 

travel brochure is enticing -- even if it misspells Ernest Hemingway's name -- with photos of old Havana and 1950s American cars. "Experience Cuba," it says. "A chance of a lifetime -- nine days in Cuba brought to you by the Portland Business Alliance." 

The price is hardly socialist at $3,299 per person (plus a $600 single supplement), not including domestic flights between Portland and Miami. 

It turns out that a growing number of U.S. organizations, including chambers of commerce, are allowed to offer people-to-people exchange programs in Cuba. The Business Alliance, greater Portland's chamber of commerce, is partnering with 
Chamber Explorations, a California venture that specializes in travel for chamber members. 

For years, U.S. leftist organizations have found ways to get Americans to Cuba via Mexico and Canada. But now the 
Multnomah Athletic Club, that Portland bastion of athletic enterprise, is also offering a Cuba trip to its members. Travelers will stay in hotels such as the Meliá Cohiba and the Meliá Habana Libre. 

Shoppers on the Aug. 2-10 trip can bring home souvenirs. But Cuban cigars, rum, coffee and communist literature are subject to confiscation upon return, given the continuing 
U.S. trade embargo. 

And don't plan on using U.S. credit cards or traveler's checks. 

"The best currency to take with you is the euro," the fine print says, "not the U.S. dollar." 

 Richard Read,

Discover Cuba With The Visalia Chamber

Posted: Feb 03, 2012 1:33 AM EST
By Rich Rodriguez

VISALIA, Calif. (KMPH) -
Travel to Cuba has always been a political hot potato.
Recently the Obama Administration eased the restrictions on travel to Cuba and a Visalia Chamber group is set to head to Havana in June.
Imagine nine days and eight nights for you to discover Cuba. The Visalia Chamber's official unveiling isn't until February 15th but Lisa Salazar says people are already signing up. "Typically Visalia is a last minute town. People wait until the last minute to sign up but this trip has generated so much interest."
The Obama Administration is responsible for the renewed interest. Former President George W. Bush cut off travel in 2003 but President Obama kept a campaign promise from 2008. "It's time to let Cuban Americans see their mothers and fathers and their sisters and their brothers," President Obama said.
The Treasury Department grants so called "people to people" licenses. Those licenses expand travel opportunities for Cuban bound visitors. "It's very important that we help open up space for the Cuban people so they can work on the grass roots democracy that is necessary to move Cuba to a better future," said Dan Restrepo, President Obama's senior advisor on Latin America.
The Chamber's nine-day trip which begins in June will start in Old Havana. "
"There's quite a few UNESCO World Heritage sites that they'll take a look at. Bay of Pigs Museum, go to Ernest Hemingway's farm and see where he wrote Island's in the Stream and The Old Man and the Sea," said Salazar.
Travelers will also tour sugar plantations and get their hands dirty with pottery making demonstrations. The price for nine days discovering Cuba is $3,900 per person, double occupancy. It includes air, hotel and meals.
The Visalia Chamber will hold an informational slideshow February 15th at noon. The presentation will be held at the Chamber office.

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