ASTA attends historic flag raising ceremony in Havana alongside John Kerry

Posted: 18-Aug-15 15:06

Representatives of ASTA assisted the official flag raising ceremony in Havana last Friday. This association, which has pronounced itself fervently against the embargo, is eager to engage in business with Cuba as soon as possible.

ASTA attends historic flag raising ceremony in Havana alongside John Kerry

Invited by Secretary of State, John Kerry, representatives of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) assisted the historic flag raising ceremony in Cuba, which represented the re-opening of the US Embassy in Havana and the re-establishment of diplomatic ties between the two nations.

After 54 years of hostility and Cold War policies, a message of goodwill and hope for the future was transmitted last Friday before the American anthem resonated beside the Malecon seawall.

ASTA's President and CEO, Zane Kerby, alongside Senior Vice President, Government and Industry Affairs, Eben Peck witnessed the unique scene and were inspired by this key moment in history.

"ASTA is honoured to have been witness to this milestone event in the new course in U.S. relations with Cuba."

Declared Zane Kerby, adding:

"We have long believed that allowing Americans to travel across the globe without restriction enables them to act as ambassadors of freedom, and we pledge to do all we can in conjunction with the Administration, the Congress and key allies such as Engage Cuba to ensure that Americans are free to travel to Cuba without constraint from their own government."

Their visit also included a reception with the current US Ambassador in Cuba, Jeffrey DeLaurentis and a meeting with their own ASTA representative in Havana, Joe Prem of Cuba Select Travel. Another important stop they made during their visit to the Caribbean island was a meeting with members of Accor Hotels, where they discussed current business opportunities and made plans for the near future in the Cuba market.

As most American travel companies, ASTA is ready to engage in business with Cuba as soon as possible, and is therefore demanding that US government lifts the long-standing restrictions of the embargo. This society is a founding member of the Engage Cuba coalition, a public policy group created to protest against the 54-year trade embargo towards the island-nation.

ASTA also supports the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act, which was recently introduced in the Senate by Senators Jeff Flake and Patrick Leahy and is still pending in Congress. This legislation would eliminate travel bans completely, something that ASTA believes to be beneficial not only for American companies and businesses, but also for Cuban economy. Allowing the travel industry to flourish by sparking demands for new passenger routes and tour operations and travel services is also a major step in building a harmonious relationship with the Cuban people.

If these restrictions were finally repealed this year, ASTA estimates that at least two million American citizens would visit Cuba by 2017.


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