U.S. Executives Slated to Meet with Cuban Officials

Dozens of representatives of the U.S. travel sector will meet with their Cuban counterparts in a public forum to discuss the potential for travel between the U.S. and Cuba, according to the National Tour Association (NTA). The meeting will take place at the U.S.-Cuba Travel Summit to be held at the Gran Melia Cancun Hotel in Cancun, from March 24-26, 2010.

This historic gathering is being organized by Alamar Associates in association with the NTA and sponsored by The United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Other sponsors to date include Marazul Charters, Vigilant Worldwide Communications, and The Americas Group.

A Cuban delegation of more than 20 officials and travel specialists traveling from Havana will include ministry officials as well as representatives of all of the major Cuban travel/tour operators.

“Over the years, these Summits have proven useful and successful in providing U.S. company executives practical information about how to do business in Cuba and whom to contact,” said Kirby Jones, president of Alamar Associates.

More than 100 attendees from the United States are expected to convene in Cancun including tour operators, cruise line executives, hotel representatives, tourism developers and investors and airline officials.

“This meeting will allow NTA members and others to meet their Cuban counterparts and give them a leading edge in learning about the business opportunities in Cuba,” said Lisa Simon, president of NTA, which has long supported the freedom to travel to Cuba.

In a statement to the organizers of the U.S.-Cuba Travel Summit, Senator Byron Dorgan (D.ND), the lead sponsor of the Senate bill to lift restrictions to travel to Cuba, said, "As sponsor of the ‘Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act’ to allow all Americans to visit Cuba, I wish the participants the very best when they come together in Cancun at the US-Cuba Travel Summit. This meeting between US travel executives and their Cuban counterparts is a valuable first step for American companies and organizations to learn how things will work when Cuba is open to American tourism."

The Conference agenda will include presentations by the Cuban ministry officials and officials of the major U.S. travel associations; panel discussions on the travel industry potential; practicalities about how to prepare for business in and with Cuba; what Cuba offers; experiences of firms already doing travel business in Cuba; and prospects for changes in the U.S. laws.

In addition, there will be breakout sessions on all aspects of travel in Cuba and more than two days for U.S. participants to talk informally and personally with all officials from Cuba.

“We are strong supporters of open travel to Cuba and the current bills in Congress to lift restrictions,” said Bob Whitley, president of USTOA. “We view this gathering as a clear signal that travel to Cuba is important to the growth and development of our US travel industry.”

This is the 10th such U.S.-Cuba business gathering that has been organized in Cancun by Alamar Associates. Overall, more than 400 U.S. executives have been able to meet their Cuban counterparts in such sectors as food and agriculture, energy, general business, and travel. Full details about the US-Cuba Travel Summit can be found at www.uscubasummit.org.


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