Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Travel Agent Guidelines for ASTA Conference

It’s still easy to sell Cuba!
  1.  President Trump made a hard-line speech in June 2017 in Miami, but did not change much.
  2. All types of purposeful travel authorized by the Obama Administration remain legal.
  3. Travel with groups or on cruises is completely unchanged.
  4. Hotel restrictions largely do not impact American used facilities and have a legal work-around.
  5. Independent travel by individuals, families and friends is also largely unchanged but now falls under the rewritten license category of “Support for the Cuban People” instead of “People to People”.
  6. The withdrawal of 60% of US diplomats was connected to mysterious medical problems that affected only them and Canadian counterparts.  Now it is happening in China.   It is totally unknown who or what is responsible, but the goal of cooling relations succeeded, as postulated by Sen. Marco Rubio.   
  7. The State Department was required by internal rules to issue a Travel Warning because the peremptorily reduced staff could not provide the normal level of citizen services.
  8. There has not been a single confirmed case of similar health symptoms from the 4 million visitors to Cuba last year including 650,000 Americans. No other country has issued any kind of health advisory.  The International Tourism Fair in Madrid judged Cuba the “Safest Destination in the World”.

How to do FIT with Cuba
  1.  Book tickets on American, Delta, Jet Blue, Southwest or United to Havana, Santa Clara or Holguin and soon Santiago.
  2.  Select “Support for the Cuban People” as the type of travel your clients are undertaking.
  3. Use AirBnB to reserve a room or an apartment (casa particular) from a private owner.
  4. Provide a list of private restaurants (paladares) for lunch and dinner.
  5. Suggest places to buy handicrafts, etc. from self-employed venders (cuenta propistas).
  6. If they need a guide, contract with her or him privately.
  7. Whatever they do, wherever they go, they must be intentional and responsible that their goal is “a full-time schedule of activities that enhance contact with the Cuban people … and that result in meaningful interactions with individuals in Cuba.”  (The conscientious judgement of what qualifies is only theirs.)
  8. Apportion recreational activities like concerts, dancing and the beach as in a normal work week.
  9. They should keep a journal or a list of their “meaningful interactions” for five years.
  10. Charge a fee for advisory services.

Links for local guides and places to stay   tinyurl.com/Cubaguides

Current US government regulations   tinyurl.com/regsnov2017

Irish links to Cuba   tinyurl.com/irishcubaurls

Petition for the end of the travel warning and all restrictions   tinyurl.com/travelwarningcuba

Most cruises leave from Florida but only offer a day or two in Havana as part of a Caribbean sailing.  A new option will only visit Cuban ports.  Cubans on board will provide music, dance, cooking and presentations on history and culture.   We will organize a reasonable cost Fam trip via Havana as soon as available .  http://www.westindiescruiseline.com/

Fund for Reconciliation and Development   
www.ffrd.org    director@ffrd.org   917-859-9027

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