While the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) appeared to be stonewalling one-year license renewals for a number of companies that operate people-to-people programs to Cuba, one company received its license on the first go-round.
GeoEx (Geographic Expeditions), a San Francisco-based adventure travel company, will launch its people-to-people programs to Cuba in November.
The company, which ran people-to-people programs in 2003 during the Clinton administration, received its one-year license on Sept. 7, according to CEO Jean-Paul Tennant.
Tennant said GeoEx applied in April but had to amend its original application when OFAC tweaked the regulations in May, requiring applicants to submit more detailed itineraries that spelled out specific interactions with Cubans that fit the cultural and educational aspects of the program.
The first two departures on GeoEx's eight-day Connecting with Cuba's Living History program are set for Nov. 3 and 26. After that, the company plans one departure per month through April, although the exact dates have not been confirmed, according to Adam Vaught, Cuban program director.
Each departure is limited to 18 participants and is priced from $5,680 per person plus approximately $500 for roundtrip air between Miami and Havana.
"The itinerary spends three nights in Havana at the Iberostar Parque Central hotel, followed by two nights at the Iberostar Grand Hotel in Trinidad with a stop in Cienfuegos along the way to visit a local choir and two more nights in Havana at the end of the trip," Vaught said.
Guests will meet local artists, historians, dancers, musicians and professors at the University of Havana.
"One highlight will be visits to some of Cuba's new paladars (private restaurants operated from local homes), where GeoEx travelers will be able to talk with a new group of enterprising restaurateurs and sample homemade specialties," Vaught said.
Follow Gay Nagle Myers on Twitter @gnmtravelweekly.