Caribbean Tourism Reps Denounce Trump's Proposed Cuba Travel Plans

A birds eye view of Havana, Cuba at night
Havana, Cuba // Photo by Konstik/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

Add the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) to the list of tourism representatives that aren’t pleased with President Donald Trump’s proposed changes to Cuba travel policies.

The CHTA recently announced that it regrets the recent U.S. reversal of its travel policies on Cuba and the likely effects on the socio-economic development of Cuba and the wider Caribbean region. 

According to a CHTA written release, the association continues to support the ending of the U.S.-Cuba embargo and its restrictions on trade and travel, and encourages Cuba's active engagement in regional economic development. In the statement, CHTA concludes that the announced policy changes could stall or altogether reverse the heartening progress made in recent years.
“If restrictions are indeed re-imposed, the association expects adverse effects for U.S. businesses - not only for import-export companies, but also for the U.S.-based travel-related businesses that have made considerable investments in Cuba since normalization began - and lost opportunities for those U.S. companies considering doing business there,” according to the statement. 

The CHTA contends that even before full normalization, Cuba's hospitality industry's growth outpaced the rest of the region and most of the world. Major global hotel chains from outside the United States have been investing in Cuba and today they manage tens of thousands of rooms. 

As latecomers, U.S. firms are already at a competitive disadvantage in Cuba. They risk becoming marginal players in the travel industry's growth in Cuba and throughout the region, according to the association. 

The CHTA statement goes on to say that it “urges the United States and Cuba to accelerate cooperation and collaboration between their governments, based on their mutual acknowledgment that the growth of travel and trade presents the greatest opportunity for breaking the long-standing social, political and economic barriers that have historically divided the two countries.”
And the CHTA isn’t the only tourism entity that isn’t pleased with Trump’s Cuba proposals. 

Earlier this week, Travel Agent brought you news that the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently issued a statement denouncing President Donald Trump’s proposed plan to restore travel restrictions with Cuba. 

The UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, said the decision represented "a step backward and a strong attack on the freedom of travel.”

“This decision will have limited impact on Cuba’s tourism development, yet it will substantially affect the U.S. economy and American jobs,” said Rifai in a written statement. “Many U.S. companies have started to invest in and do business with Cuba in view of the immense potential of Cuban tourism, which other countries will surely continue to benefit from.”

And it’s not the first time the UNWTO leader has been vocal about Trump’s travel-related proposals. 

During the opening General Session of our recent coverage of the 42nd edition of Tianguis Turisitco in AcapulcoMexico, Rifai made reference to both Trump's wall and travel ban proposals before offering words of support to the country of Mexico.

"It still a beautiful world," he said back in March. "You hear about diseases, you hear about earthquakes, natural disasters, terrorism, walls being built, people being deprived of their rights to travel…many, many (inequalities) and sufferings, but the fact is we hear about them because we are connected today, we are becoming whole, we become aware."

Rifai went on to explain that travel is the great remedy for an otherwise chaotic political period in global travel.

"Travel and tourism is a calmness during this new world," he told attendees of Tianguis. "We become better when we travel, our eyes open, our hearts open, our minds open, all stereotypes are broken. I traveled the world. I am a better person. When we travel, we become better people because there is nothing more powerful than people coming (together), rubbing shoulders and creating this new world."

Keep visiting for all the latest travel news and be sure to follow Travel Agent’s Joe Pike on Twitter @TravelPike and Instagram @pike5260

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