CEO of US Tour Operator Association urges US government to fully lift Cuba travel restrictions

Posted: 14-Jan-16 09:17

Terry Dale, the President and CEO of the US Tour Operator Association (USTOA) recently asked for the full lifting of the travel embargo pledging that such a move would be highly beneficial for the US tourist industry whilst helping transform Cuba into a less isolated, more open and free society as US holidaymakers could share their culture and values with locals from the socialist Caribbean nation.

CEO of US Tour Operator Association urges US government to fully lift Cuba travel restrictions

The lifting of commercial sanctions and the current ban on tourist travel to Cuba are two issues at the top of the agenda for President and CEO of the US Tour Operator Association, Terry Dale.

In order to get his message across and urge the pertinent US authorities to keep moving towards the ultimate goal of fully lifting of the embargo, Mr Dale issued a long letter addressed to the US government and Congress in which he formally requested for the travel ban to Cuba to be fully eliminated; in order to allow Americans to embrace all the island had to offer with all the rights of a tourist.

In the letter he argues how Americans and ordinary Cubans would mutually benefit from such a move, which would ultimately lead to a freer Cuba:

"Those coming in contact with American travelers will have a chance to get to know what our culture and values really stand for. Our visitors can forge cultural and emotional bonds and bring fresh sources of information to Cubans. The influx of smartphones, the access to information, and demonstration of what life is like in the United States will serve as an important force in encouraging a freer and more open Cuba."

Going on to enlighten the public about how the US economy would also massively profit from the removal of the Cuban embargo, Dale added:

"Over 15 million American jobs are supported by the travel industry’s footprint, and the industry provides an economic output of $2.1 trillion. Here in Iowa, over 67,000 jobs are supported by travel and tourism. Domestic and international travelers spend over $8 billion annually […]"

“USTOA has been an active voice for expanding travel opportunities for Americans and urges our policymakers to continue their work toward breaking down barriers for US travelers."

Speaking about the support for such a move from American citizens themselves, in this case from Iowa, he presented the following facts:

"Public opinion in Iowa highlights this heightened interest in lowering barriers to travel to Cuba […]

“Iowan voters across political parties voiced support for the restoration of diplomatic relations and lifting the trade and travel ban. The results stress the need for politicians and policy-makers to reexamine our nation’s relationship to one of our nearest neighbors."

Mr Dale also highlighted that “the highest levels of support were found for lifting of the travel ban” with 64 per cent of voters in Iowa having voted for an end to the travel restrictions still in place.

Speaking about the ever increasing appeal of Cuba as an ever more desirable holiday destination for US travellers, Mr Dale was quick to point out that:

"In a survey of USTOA’s members, Cuba beat out Myanmar as the top emerging destination for American travelers. There is pent-up demand by travelers to visit this culturally rich nation."

Even when several modifications have been recently made to the trade embargo in order to allow for freer travel to Cuba for US citizens, the typical tourist holidays to Cuba with the main purpose of basking on beach resorts is still out of the reach of American travellers.

Thanks to the easing of the legislation put in place by Obama’s administration, US travellers can now visit the island after obtaining special licensed visas available in 12 stipulated categories that define the purpose of travel for which they are allowed to enter the former neighbouring foe. Further promoting easier and more accessible travel to Cuba for the average American, the recent announcement of the reaching of an agreement between the two countries to re-establish direct commercial flights between the two nations has been received with furore in the US travel industry.

Spurred by these recent moves and developments that seem to pave the way for a full lift of the restrecitons, Dale’s concluding statement read:

"With the administration’s recent reforms and the renewed interest in Cuba, opportunities for travel to the island are more promising now than ever before. We are at a critical moment to encourage our policymakers to end this antiquated policy and allow Americans to fully embrace their freedom of movement and travel to nearby Cuba."


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