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CUBA | The competition gets tougher

 President Obama made history in December 2014 when he announced his plans to re-establish a diplomatic relationship with Cuba after an embargo of more than 50 years. This unexpected announcement caught the attention of the world and in particular residents of the Cayman Islands who have been waiting on news of the “opening up” of Cuba.

 

The competition to attract American tourists to Caribbean islands that so heavily depend on tourism is about to get tougher.

 

Six American airlines were recently given a tentative nod to begin scheduled flights into Cuba from several US cities, from as early as this fall, as part of President Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations with the Spanish-speaking Caribbean nation.

The announcement by US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx that Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, and United Airlines have been awarded routes between Atlanta, Charlotte, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando, and Tampa and Havana, came nearly one year after the diplomatic relations between the two countries were re-established.

“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” Foxx said. 

 

“Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”

 

A dozen US airlines had applied for the chance to operate scheduled passenger and cargo service to Havana. Collectively, they applied for nearly 60 flights per day to Havana, exceeding the 20 daily flights made available by arrangement between the two governments.

This new arrangement will facilitate visits for travelers that fall under one of the 12 categories authorized by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.  At the time of the signing, the administration announced that scheduled service would begin later in 2016.

 

Located to the south of the largest Caribbean Island and only 45 minutes in flying time to Havana, the capital, the Cayman Islands and its residents have been  paying special attention to developments in that island nation of 11 million inhabitants.  Cuba is also the only remaining communist state to receive a “very high” human development ranking from the United Nations, and ranks well in measures of health and education.

For many years stories have been told, locally, of the female attractions that have enticed male visitors to this island but if you take a visit, this myth will be cleared and Cuba will reveal the true wonders of this natural paradise that receives over 3 million visitors on an annual basis.

Local Government officials have indicated in the past that there is no need for great concern but many in the private sector are becoming nervous about what may be ahead. For years many investors have been patiently waiting for this opportunity and have mobilized their plans to improve tourist accommodations in this Spanish speaking territory. Many hotel executives have said that they are eager to do business in Cuba and are emphasizing the proximity to the U.S., and the miles of undeveloped prime beach fronts.

 

These developments may be a few years away, but time waits for no one and as the international flights from Canada and Europe touch down at the Jose Marti Airport, it is easy to envision the growth of a stronger tourism industry in Cuba.

 

Even though Cuba cannot be compared with the Cayman Islands in many areas, there are some areas of the Cuban Industry that attract tourists who may have otherwise travelled to our shores. For visitors seeking a strong cultural presence, low crime rate, rain forests, white sandy beaches, clear water and last but not least, lower prices for travel, food and accommodation, Cuba has been their choice.

 

Cuba also boasts high quality medical services at very low cost and many patients from neighboring Caribbean nations are steadily making their way to the north for treatment.

 

 Change is inevitable and eventually Cuba will become a strong competitor in many areas.

 

The challenge is to turn this competition into opportunity by developing partnerships that will encourage promotion of each territory’s assets. Two such areas are tourism and healthcare from which both jurisdictions may benefit as travellers may prefer a Cayman / Cuba package. With daily flights from Cuba to Cayman, travellers on board the larger air carriers will also be able to easily make a connection to our own paradise.

 

Seeing is believing and for a low cost airfare under CI $300 on the National Airline, Cayman Airways, residents can see history in the making as Cuba is transformed.

 

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McKeeva Bush

14 Jul, 2016 04:39 AM

In our discussion with Cuba re Cal-Cuba routes we discussed cal charters to isle pines Cuba agreed that since they had no immigration offices there and anyone going there had to go through Havana, if cal organized the charter the Cuban govt would set up the immigration to go there for the flt
That was a good arrangement. What ever happened to that set up I don't know! Elections came!

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McKeeva Bush

14 Jul, 2016 04:39 AM

In our discussion with Cuba re Cal-Cuba routes we discussed cal charters to isle pines Cuba agreed that since they had no immigration offices there and anyone going there had to go through Havana, if cal organized the charter the Cuban govt would set up the immigration to go there for the flt
That was a good arrangement. What ever happened to that set up I don't know! Elections came!

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W. McKeeva Bush

14 Jul, 2016 02:51 AM

You said local govt in the past saw no concern.
You better had said this present govt said that. Recently they repeated that,as I raised my concerns publicly
My govt in 2001-2005 made tourism and cultural agreements with the Cuban govt. I was called comminist for it
2009-2012 I again renewed relations with the Cuban ministries of commerce and tourism because I saw challenges for us in the future snd thought it best to be prepared to work with them on those levels

However my govt

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W. McKeeva Bush

14 Jul, 2016 02:51 AM

You said local govt in the past saw no concern.
You better had said this present govt said that. Recently they repeated that,as I raised my concerns publicly
My govt in 2001-2005 made tourism and cultural agreements with the Cuban govt. I was called comminist for it
2009-2012 I again renewed relations with the Cuban ministries of commerce and tourism because I saw challenges for us in the future snd thought it best to be prepared to work with them on those levels

However my govt

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Usher

13 Jul, 2016 07:12 AM

USA is thinking well and doing the best beating every body all the great oportunities. Good for Obama.
Question: Can Cayman Airways also considere taking the lead in adding the abandoned ISLE OF PINES, to the Cayman Islandso route?
Please note that there is where many Caymanians went and many never came out and died waiting to reunite with their families, others coukn not not go back to the families they left behind, and many don' t even know their relatives from our other Sister Island. Where many Caymanias are buried and all the Cayman relatives have grown apart withouth knowing their real families and heritage. All due to the USA ban on Cuba. Today they are the first traveling and with the most flights going in to Habana daily, about 8 X day.
Sugestión to help improve the Cayman business and help our large Cuban Caymanian Cumunity:
Please start making arrangements directly with the Cuban Civil Aviation in Cuba for Cayman Airways to add the Isle of Pines or Youth to the route Cayman- Habana - Isle of Yourh. At least every other day.
Please help unity both Islands again.
Looking forward to better business from our National flag carrier to our Islands. Keep up the good job.
We are proud of you. Thank you. God bless our Islands.

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