Travel Agent recently spoke to representatives of both Insight Cuba, a provider of U.S. licensed people-to-people travel to Cuba, and General Tours World Traveler about a renewed partnership, which was made official Monday, that allow for legal travel from the U.S. to Cuba to continue.
Insight Cuba was one of the first organizations to receive a specific license from the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to provide people-to-people tours, and is now permitting General Tours to make travel agent referrals to Insight Cuba through a special letter of authorization from OFAC. Since Insight Cuba launched the first people-to-people trips to Cuba in August of 2011, it has sent roughly 3,000 people to the “forbidden island,” says Tom Popper, president of Insight Cuba.
The people-to-people initiative requires Americans to take part in various cultural experiences in Cuba, essentially, as the name implies, putting them in direct contact with the people of Cuba with hopes of learning about the way of life in the country. It was implemented by President Clinton in 1999 and suspended by President Bush in 2004 before President Obama resurrected the program.
The two companies first collaborated in 2003 and together sent the most Americans to Cuba before travel restrictions were reinstated in 2004. With four small group journeys on offer for 2012-2013, General Tours is providing travel agencies with the widest choice to Cuba.
“It’s great news for us and for the trade,” says Popper. “For agents across the United States, we can offer something that had been unavailable to them.”
The four small group trips offered to Cuba by Insight Cuba and General Tours are limited to 24 travelers and include carefully selected hotels, all meals, in-country ground and air transportation, transfers, all entry fees to events, a Cuban guide, an Insight Cuba tour leader, U.S. Treasury Department license and Letter of Authorization, travel health insurance and trip cancellation coverage (up to $1,000).
Agents earn a referral fee on all bookings and General Tours World Traveler preferred levels apply. The company’s agent-friendly group policy includes a $100 per couple agent bonus for groups starting at only eight guests.
“We have a nice heritage together,” says Bob Drumm, president of General Tours World Traveler. “Referral is tied directly to the commission agreement and that’s because one of our missions is to make it easy for travel agents to sell this.”