Saturday, September 19, 2009

Program for Destination Seminar at Las Vegas Trade Show

"Cuba Breakthrough:
Opportunities for the US Travel Industry"

• Welcome by moderator

Robert E. Whitley, CTC, President, United States Tour Operators Association

• Slide presentation of Cuba as a destination (15 min)

Christopher P. Baker, travel writer and photographer since 1983, considered the world's foremost authority on travel and tourism to Cuba, about which he has written six books, including the Moon Cuba, Moon Havana, and National Geographic Traveler Cuba guidebooks, plus Mi Moto Fidel: Motorcycling Through Castro's Cuba. He has written for publications as diverse as National Geographic Traveler, Newsweek, and Robb Report. He has addressed Cuba at the National Press Club, World Affairs Council, "Live from National Geographic," etc., and appears regularly on ABC, CBS, Fox News, NPR, and similar radio and TV outlets. He was named Lowell Thomas Award Travel Journalist of the Year in 2008 and is a member of the Society of American Travel Writers.

• The Cuba experience of a US tour operator (10 min)

Andrea Holbrook, President of Holbrook Travel, has been working in Cuba since 2000 as a licensed Travel Service Provider (TSP). Her company is a tour operation specializing in educational and natural history travel since 1974. Holbrook Travel uses its unique expertise in customizing programs to create magical learning experiences; connecting knowledge-seeking travelers to diverse environments and cultures around the world. Company founder and ecotourism pioneer, Giovanna Holbrook, is also responsible for establishing the Selva Verde Lodge and Rainforest Reserve, which protects 500 acres of primary forest in northeastern Costa Rica. Andrea chairs the Travel Industry Network on Cuba.

• Operational in Cuba, a personal insight on commercial tourism today (10 min)

Marti Aragones, Sales and Marketing Director, Canada – US Market, Sol Melia Cuba Hotels, the largest foreign manager of hotels and resorts on the island. He has been with Sol Melia for 12 years, 5 of them working directly at the destination in Cuba, the rest working in Canada and as Sales and Marketing Director. Before that Aragones owned a travel agency in Spain for 3 years.

• Cuba’s potential for American tour operators (15 min)

Lisa Simon, CTP, President, National Tour Association (NTA) since 2004. She began her tenure with NTA in 1985 and served as its senior vice president from 1998 to 2004. Simon has managed NTA’s education, certification and marketing activities, as well as served as the director of the National Tourism Foundation and vice president of Marketing. With more than 20 years’ experience in association marketing and management, her facilitation skills and analytical abilities have proven effective in leadership development, strategic planning, organizational structure and managing change. She is a member of the American Society of Association Executives, and serves on the boards of the US Travel Association and Tourism Cares

Robert E. Whitley, CTC, President, United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA)
since 1978. Before joining USTOA, Whitley held positions as director of the Florida Department of Tourism, director of the Pennsylvania Department of Tourism and director of the Virginia Beach Convention and Tourist Bureau. Mr. Whitley is the recipient of numerous marketing awards for travel promotion, and has served on the Board of Directors of many travel industry associations. For seven consecutive years he was recognized by a leading trade magazine as one of the travel industry’s 25 most influential executives, and was named in 1996, 1997 and 1999 as Person of the Year for Travel Industry Associations by Travel Agent Magazine. He was also given the 2005 Travel Weekly Award for Lifetime Achievement.

• Gov. Bill Richardson in Cuba: Travel Challenges and Opportunities (10 min)

Tony Martinez, Senior Foreign Policy Adviser to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson on U.S. Relations with Cuba and Latin America; Attorney, Government Relations, and Strategic Business Consultant. He has worked on United States-Cuba relations and policy issues for the last ten years. He advises food, medical, agriculture, telecommunications, and travel companies on legally permissible trade and travel to Cuba and has led several business and Congressional delegations to the island. An expert on U.S. Congressional politics, Tony has been involved with these issues since he was 16 years old. He has worked closely with Gov. Richardson over the last 17 years during his tenures as U.S. Representative, U.S. Ambassador to the UN, and U.S. Energy Secretary. He recently accompanied him on his trip to Cuba in August, 2009. Twitter: usambcuba

• Washington update, the Administration and Congress (5 min)

John McAuliff, Coordinator, Travel Industry Network on Cuba; Executive Director, Fund for Reconciliation and Development. He organized licensed educational travel to Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia from 1985 and to Cuba from 1997. A leader of efforts by US non-governmental organizations to normalize travel, trade and diplomatic relations with Indochina and Cuba. Active in US civil rights and anti-war movements and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Peru.


Visit our Cuba Now booth # 1237. Andrea, Marti and Tony will be there on Sunday and Monday. Sign the Open Cuba petition on-line. The first 400 new signers (and bringers of signers) will receive a button and USTOA T-shirt. Business card draw for CDs noon Tuesday.


Yes, we all can make a difference:

• Share the petition link with your friends and clients

• Urge the President to license unlimited travel for educational, cultural, religious, humanitarian and other non-tourist purposes

• Ask if your Representative and Senators will cosponsor, or at least commit to vote for, legislation that legalizes all travel and tourism: HR 874, S 428 (text at

• Join and support the educational work of the Travel Industry Network on Cuba

Travel Industry Network on Cuba, c/o Fund for Reconciliation and Development
145 Palisade Street, Suite 401, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522 914-231-6270