Tuesday, April 7, 2009

International Tourism Fair in Havana May 4-8

Cuba's 29th International Tourism Fair will be held in Havana May 4-8 offering a unique comprehensive survey of opportunities for the US travel industry if legislation to end travel restrictions is adopted (HR 874, S 428). This is an annual trade show at which the full range of domestic and international travel services and facilities available in Cuba are represented. High level officials speak and presentations are made by the primary government tourism agencies. Hundreds of tour operators and travel agents from Canada, Europe and Latin American attend, negotiating contracts for the following year. Germany is the guest of honor this year.

Under current OFAC regulations, it is not legal for American travel agents or tour operators to attend, even with a general license for professional research (" meetings or conferences may not be for the purpose of promoting tourism in Cuba"). However, that could change if President Obama decides to "loosen remaining travel restrictions for all Americans by the time he goes to the April 17-19 Summit of the Americas" as reported in the Washington Post on March 30th. Even at present there is no legal obstacle to travel writers covering the Fair. They have a general license if they are "persons regularly employed as journalists by a news reporting organization".

For further information, see the FIT website here or contact John McAuliff, Travel Industry Network on Cuba, jmcauliff@ffrd.org

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