The thaw in US-Cuba relations continues to have ripple effects all across the Caribbean. The resurgence of Cuba as a travel and tourism powerhouse in the region has triggered some fears among neighboring islands within the region, while others see this sea change as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring the Caribbean closer to a genuine integration effort by the hand of multi-destination offers.
The recent accord inked by tourism authorities of Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica is a good case in point that this is the right way to go. But other key players in the region shouldn’t be left behind in this endeavor. A delegation from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), presided over by its current chairman, will be visiting Cuba in early May to meet with high-ranking tourism authorities from the island nation.
Cuba’s Tourism Minister Manuel Marrero and top executives from Cubanacan, one of Cuba’s major travel and tourism companies, will be huddling with the delegation from CHTA, the main private-sector group related to travel and tourism in the Caribbean. Enrique de Marchena Kaluche, former CHTA chairman from 2010 to 2012 and currently partner and manager of DMK Abogados Central Law in the Dominican Republic, said that the driving force behind this visit is to join hands with Cuba for the sake a united Caribbean.
“They want to work together with Cuba to start an integrated, unified work in an effort to maximize Cuba’s main potentials as a travel destination. I think it’s going to be a win-win scenario for both parties,” Mr. de Marchena said. “I believe CHTA has a lot to offer Cuba in terms of its relationship with the United States. CHTA is headquartered in Miami. In addition, CHTA has hefty institutional and educational programs in place, let alone its Travel Marketplace, the Caribbean’s number-one fair for marketing the region’s tourist product,” the former CHTA chairman said.
According to Mr. de Marchena, Cuba, the Mexican Caribbean and the Dominican Republic will no doubt be the great competitor for the Caribbean’s travel share over the next 10 to 15 years, a reason why the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association is unlikely to pass up this opportunity to visit Cuba. Chances are the CHTA delegation will visit Cuba during the upcoming edition of FITCuba 2016, the island nation’s major international travel and tourism tradeshow, slated from May 3-7 in Havana.