BRIDGETOWN, Barbados --- Jean Holder, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), will meet in Havana Feb. 20 with Cuban tourism minister Ibrahim Ferradez-Garcia to discuss "possible areas of cooperation between the CTO and Cuba," according to Holder, who described Cuba as "the cradle of Caribbean tourism with a very long history of tourism development."

Presumably, the talks will include CTO's Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development, set for April 27 to 30 in Havana, which will focus on the region's preservation of marine and coastal areas.

"These are matters of a scientific, rather than a political, nature, and are of considerable concern to all countries which are touched by the waters of the Caribbean Sea," Holder said. "We are expecting the widest possible cooperation from all parties concerned," he said of the conference.

Details on the attendance of U.S. participants at the conference are still being worked out in light of existing restrictions imposed by the U.S. government.

Cuba was one of the original members of CTO and returned to membership in 1991 after a period of absence. Holder said Cuba is an active participant in CTO programs in Canada and Europe. "It is amazing how Cuban tourism has grown in the last decade in markets not traditional to Cuba," Holder said.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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