Cuba continues to a hot new destination for U.S.-based tour operators -- if they have the right credentials and are affiliated with the right educational and cultural groups. On Aug. 13 at Virtuoso Travel Week in Las Vegas, IsramWorld unveiled a series of journeys to Cuba.
IsramWorld joins such other companies as Abercrombie & Kent, Central Holidays, Collette Vacations, Friendly Planet, Gate 1, General Tours, Globus, Insight Cuba, International Expeditions, Tauck, Yalla and other tour operators, who have all launched programs over the past two years.
IsramWorld, which began operating 50 years ago as an Israel-bound tour company and now has nine different brands, plans its first departure this fall with a total of eight tours in 2013. A total of 30 departures are planned for 2014, with tours on a weekly schedule except during the mid-July through mid-September hurricane season. The U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Treasury Department have regulations barring U.S. citizens from spending dollars in Cuba, but they allow exceptions for educational and cultural programs when affiliated with recognized organizations.
IsramWorld's nine-day, eight-night tours will focus on three niche markets from three IsramWorld brands. Tours for general travelers will be available through Latour; tours for gay and lesbian (LGBT) travelers will be available through PrideWorld; and tours for travelers interested in Cuba’s Jewish heritage and community will be available under the IsramWorld banner.
“Travel to Cuba has been unavailable to Americans for more than a half-century,” said Ady Gelber, president and CEO of IsramWorld. "But from my first visit to the island in 1994, I knew this would be a thrilling experience for curious Americans.”
All IsramWorld tours will include an extensive program of people-to-people encounters approved by the U.S. Department of Justice. Tours are priced at $3,985 per person and include round-trip flights from Miami; stays in top hotels in Havana, Cienfuegos and Santa Clara; many meals; a full program of touring and meetings, as well as a pre-trip overnight and briefing at the Sheraton Miami Airport.
Every tour will feature an intensive schedule of meetings and exchanges with a variety of Cuban professionals, including academics, artists, performers, economists, environmentalists, designers, trade unionists, urban planners and healthcare specialists. Jewish Heritage programs will also include in-depth exposure to Cuba’s Jewish community. In addition, the LGBT programs will feature encounters, meetings and exchanges with Cuba’s gay community. IsramWorld travelers will stay at the Melia Habana Hotel in Havana and at boutique hotels in Santa Clara, Trinidad and Cienfuegos. For full details of IsramWorld’s Cuban educational exchanges that promote people-to-people contact, click on Latour.