The Travel Industry Committee on Cuba (TICC) invites travel agents and their allies to join together in a nationwide campaign to restore the right of Americans to visit Cuba and of US agencies to book transportation and accomodations.
We were launched at the last ASTA confenence in Montreal in 2005 and at the Trade Show in Orlando in 2006 through the medium of booths and receptions.
Our relevance to the travel industry has increased because the mid-term elections provide a real opportunity for the first time to legislatively remedy the virtually total bar on travel that has been imposed by the Bush Administration.
The potential benefit to agents of Cuba becoming a legal destination is self-evident, especially after the AP-Ipsos poll documented that 18 percent of Americans would be “very interested” and 22 percent “somewhat interested” in going there on vacation. The problem has been to convince busy travel professionals that Congress can take up the issue in 2007 and have the political will to overcome the threat of a veto.
The first hundle has been met as leading Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate are crafting legislation and a strategy for passage. No doubt opposition to change will be strongly expressed by the Administration as well as by Cuban-American Representatives and Senators. While they speak for a declining minority opinion in their own community, political and economic power is still concentrated in the hands of the old guard.
Pressing for reform will be many organizations reflecting the interests of Cuban-American families separated by inhumane restrictions and of not-for-profit groups who previously could undertake licensed travel. (See http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/Cubatravelbill/ )
Missing from the equation so far is the broad public that by a two to one margin supports normaliation of relations. Travel agents have the opportunity to authentically represent not only their own legitimate economic interest in travel, but also the sentiments of their clients and friends who simply want to visit the most sophisticated of Caribbean neighbors, made all the more alluring by nearly fifty years of artificial separation.
Conventional tourism, including cruise stops, will only be possible if there is strong grass roots support to end all restrictions, as stipulated in Rangel's HR 654. Other more cautious pieces of legislation are already citculating that will only address specific sectors of travel, most notably family reunions.
This blog site is open to comments and suggestions from all those who wish to see travel restrictions completely ended. Following are several questions, but do not feel limited to the points they raise.
1) How do you feel the travel sector can make its weight felt most effectively?
2) Will individual agents and local companies reach out to Representatives and Senators so they understand their own constituents support travel to Cuba?
3) Can ASTA chapters and regions and other professional associations be asked to include in meeting agendas a discussion of the potential of Cuba for their business and the status of legislation in Congress?
4) Are funds available to make TICC a real force, e.g. to pay for staff, mailings, and advertisements in trade publications?
We are also wondering how TICC can help US travel professionals to quickly and productively engage with Cuba after restrictions are ended.
1) Can the Cuba course produced by ASTA several years ago be more widely utilized and updated?
2) Will agents who gained experience as Travel Service Providers establish dialog or partnership with colleagues/competitors new to the destination?
3) Shall we organize a meeting in a third country for TICC members, travel professionals from Cuba, and Europeans and Canadians who manage joint ventures that contribute to the tourism infrastructure?
4) Should TICC arrange with Cuban tourism officials and joint venture operators a fam trip/orientation/certification process for its members that can take place as soon as restrictions are ended?
If you would like to join TICC, please complete the form in the accompanying post and return it at your earliest convenience.