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Friday, December 19, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
The Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC)
is pleased to inform of its Office Days at the
San Fernando Regional Corporation,
Harris Promenade, San Fernando,
on every 4th Monday of every month.
Officers of the Commission will be at the
San Fernando Regional Corporation Offices
on the dates listed below during the period of
December, 2014 from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
For further information visit
www.equalopportunity.gov.tt or contact us at (868) 672-0928
NEW YORK---Cuba was once a haven for sun-
seeking American tourists. Beautiful beaches, lively
casinos and late-night dancing made it the perfect
getaway, only an hour s flight from Miami.
But the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro and the
subsequent Cold War embargo of the communist island
nation put an end to that.
President Barack Obama s announcement Wednesday
of plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba doesn t
suddenly lift the ban on US tourism. It does, however,
give hope to airlines, hotel chains and cruise compa-
nies---all which have been quietly eyeing a removal of
the travel ban---that they soon will be able to bring US
tourists to the Caribbean nation.
"Cuba is the largest country in the Caribbean, so
there s some exciting possibilities," said Roger Frizzell,
spokesman for Carnival Corp. He said "some infrastruc-
ture for cruising already exists in the country," although
other issues "need to be taken into consideration if this
market opens up."
A handful of international companies already operate
in Cuba. For instance, Spanish hotel chain Melia has 26
properties on the island. US companies, like Hilton
Worldwide and Marriott International---the two largest
chains by rooms---say they welcome any future oppor-
tunities to include Cuba in their rapidly growing global
"We will take our cues from the US government, but
look forward to opening hotels in Cuba, as companies
from others countries have done already," Marriott CEO
Arne Sorenson said via an e-mailed statement.
While most Americans are prohibited from travelling
to Cuba and spending money there, close relatives of
Cubans, academics and people on accredited cultural
education programs can visit. And there is a tiny, but
robust business in transporting people to Cuba.
Most operators are tiny storefront travel agents in the
Miami area with names like Alina s Travel Company and
Gina s Travel Services. Those agents then charter planes
from carriers like American Airlines to transport the
About 124,000 US citizens flew non-stop to Cuba
last year, up from 77,000 in 2012, according to the
Department of Commerce.
"Once people get a glimpse of Cuba, they always want
to see more," said Katharine Bonner, a senior executive
at Connecticut-based tour operator Tauck, which runs
tours there under a cultural exchange license. "Americans
are very curious about a country that is 90 miles off
our coast but has been off limits for so long."
It is that isolation, in part, that is so appealing. There s
no McDonalds, no Starbucks. Bonner said once travel
opens, there will be a rush to see Cuba before its gets
"It s almost like a country that has been frozen in
time," she said. "There s going to be a desire to see Cuba
before it changes."
The challenge for the industry will be to offer trips
to Cuba for eager tourists without alienating anti-Castro
Cuban-Americans who stay in hotels or take cruises
elsewhere. Regardless, for now, senior Obama admin-
istration officials say that travel to Cuba for tourist activ-
ities will remain prohibited.
US airlines have been quietly dipping their toes in
Cuba s warm waters for years.
The one immediate change for licensed travellers: they
will now be able to return to the US with $400 in Cuban
goods, including tobacco and alcohol. Limited amounts
of Cuban cigars might be the new hot souvenir. (AP)
World leaders welcomed
an historic move by the
US to end more than 50
years of hostility
towards Cuba and
relations, frozen since
the 1960s. US President
Barack Obama said the
"rigid and outdated
policy" of isolating Cuba
since then had clearly
failed and that it was
time for a new
approach. Here a
musician is pictured in
Cuba's capital, Havana.
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