Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Friendly Planet Renewed for Two Years

Friendly Planet Travel Receives a 2-Year Renewal for Its People-To-People Cuba Programs

Renewal underscores Friendly Planet Travel’s commitment to delivering high-value cultural access for Americans eager to experience Cuba legally

 — Friendly Planet Travel announced today that it has been awarded a two-year renewal of its people-to-people license for legal travel to Cuba from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). The license, which runs through 2016, extends Friendly Planet Travel’s ability to legally allow Americans to travel to Cuba for meaningful and rewarding direct interactions with the Cuban people through educational exchanges in art, music, literature, and other cultural pursuits.
First issued by OFAC in 2011 with the intent of developing a greater understanding between the separated nations, the people-to-people program has proven to be a tremendous success, with thousands of Americans visiting Cuba under the license. Today, Friendly Planet Travel is among the largest people-to-people operators, having taken more than 5,000 travelers to Cuba over the last three years
“More than any other strategy, people-to-people programs have helped participants visualize a more accepting world by providing opportunities to learn about new cultures through interpersonal interactions,” said Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel. “I am proud that our company has played such an integral role in introducing Americans to Cubans and their way of life, and vice versa, and I appreciate that OFAC recognized the value of our programs through this license renewal.”
In fact, a survey conducted by Friendly Planet Travel of Americans upon their return from Cuba under the program revealed that the program dramatically transformed the majority of travelers’ opinions about Cuba, its people, and U.S. policy toward the country, with more than 80 percent of participants expressing a desire to return for another visit.
“These programs are by no means simple vacations,” said Goldman. “Rather, they are life-altering events that cause Americans to rethink their views about Cuba and for Cubans to rethink their views about us. After all, that’s what the best travel experiences accomplish. They open minds, hearts, and souls to different cultures, providing insight and increasing tolerance. Can anyone think of a better formula for a more secure and peaceful world?”
Friendly Planet Travel currently offers three people-to-people programs to Cuba, with departures posted through April 2015, and it can customize private individual and group programs for professional associations, cultural institutions, universities, and even families to specific cultural interests. Friendly Planet Travel also plans to expand its Cuba offerings in the coming year to include additional new and engaging programs.
As with all Friendly Planet Travel tours, the Cuba programs are priced to offer travelers an exceptional value and they’re generally priced at far less than similar programs, despite offering better accommodations throughout Cuba.
“We are really proud of the packages we’ve put together,” said Goldman. “We’ve created fascinating itineraries with plenty of interactions with local Cubans. Our groups are small, offering convenience and a far more personalized experience for our travelers. Additionally, our prices are exceptional, making Cuba an affordable option for those with a desire to visit.”
The six-day Discover Havana tour, priced from $2,399, features a complete program of people-to-people activities and visits sights in and around Havana, including Hemingway’s Finca Vigia, as well as Cojimar and Las Terrazas. The popular nine-day Colors of Cuba tour, priced from $3,499, now includes five-star deluxe hotel accommodations in Havana and Trinidad. The seven-day Highlights of Havana & Varadero, starting at $2,759, is a magic combination of city and sea, and visits Havana, Cojimar, Varadero, Cardenas, Coliseo, and Matanzas. Travelers on this tour stay at a deluxe hotel on Cuba’s famed Varadero beach.
For more information about Friendly Planet Travel’s Cuba programs, please visit the Friendly Planet Travel website or blog.
Friendly Planet Travel makes high-quality exotic travel affordable for everyone. Since 1981, Friendly Planet Travel has been arranging all-inclusive escorted discount vacation packages and cruises to the most exciting destinations in the world at the lowest possible prices.
Each year, Friendly Planet Travel offers more than 30 different group travel packages to Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and South America—at discounts of hundreds of dollars off similar vacations. With no hidden charges, add-ons, or surprises, Friendly Planet Travel vacations include convenient flights and airfare; carefully selected, first-class and superior hotels; knowledgeable, English-speaking guides; many meals; planned itineraries; as well as friendships and memories that last a lifetime.
Friendly Planet Travel offers its extensive, economical travel services to private groups, including universities, religious institutions, alumni associations, and families. Groups who wish to travel together can count on Friendly Planet Travel’s three decades of experience to operate their group travel program expertly and always at the very best possible prices. Visit the company at You can also follow Friendly Planet Travel on Twitter and Facebook.
My comment
Friendly Planet, Insight Cuba and Road Scholar offer excellent introductions to Cuba for people interested in group tours.
The next step is for President Obama to grant a general license for individuals and families to organize their own second or third people to people visits.  Encourage him to do so here 
John McAuliff
Fund for Reconciliation and Development

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