CANCUN, Mexico – U.S. businessmen predicted at a meeting in this Mexican resort with Cuban authorities a hopeful outlook for the end of restrictions preventing tourists from the United States from traveling to the communist-ruled island.
The participants at the meeting in the Caribbean resort of Cancun were seeking support for the efforts of a group of U.S. senators to end the prohibitions.
Kirby Jones, president of the Bethesda, Maryland consulting firm Alamar Associates, told Efe that the outlook is good after several years during which the U.S.-Cuba Travel Summits he organizes were suspended due to the tightening of restrictions against Cuba.
He said that the situation is much improved with the current U.S. government and a group of senators is pushing for reforms with regard to the economic embargo on Cuba, which was put in place in 1962.
“In Congress now there is a bill to do away with the restrictions. And we’ve been working for almost a year to support that new law. Some of the attendees (at Cancun) visited the offices of the lawmakers to motivate them to vote in favor of lifting the restrictions,” Jones said.
As part of the three-day meeting’s program, on Thursday the participants were expecting to be addressed, via teleconference, by Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.)
Jones said that as of Wednesday afternoon 65 U.S. businessmen had registered at the conference, while it had been confirmed that the Cuban delegation would be comprised of 45 people, among them the island’s tourism minister, Manuel Marrero Cruz.
The attendance of the president of the United States Tour Operators Association, Bob Whitley, and the president of the National Tour Association, Lisa Simon, was also expected.
“This meeting reflects the opinion of the U.S. people who want to visit Cuba without limitations,” Jones said.
An analysis by the organizing committee for the meeting indicates that the potential market of U.S. citizens who could visit the island immediately if travel restrictions are lifted is about 1 million. EFE