WASHINGTON -- The Association of Travel Related Industry
Professionals (Atrip), a new organization that supports
unrestricted global travel and is spearheading a sustained effort
to ease U.S. travel policies to Cuba, wasted no time in zeroing in
on Cuba as the focus of its first international conference.
Atrip will convene a U.S.-Cuba Travel Conference Oct. 16 to 18
at the Gran Melia Cancun Hotel in Mexico.
Ibrahim Ferradaz, Cuban minister of tourism, will give the
keynote address. Participants will include Cuban tourism agencies
and hotels, government representatives, U.S. congressional members,
business leaders, tourism representatives and industry
Although breakout sessions and workshops will focus on Cuba's
business potential, along with long-term investment and travel
industry development opportunities, the prospects for a change in
U.S. laws to open up travel to Cuba "will be an overriding issue
and focus," according to Atrip executive director Brent
"The conference already has generated a lot of excitement and
interest," Gibaldo said. "While the current economic environment
might limit attendance, there is considerable interest in and
support of free and open travel to Cuba, especially within the U.S.
The Cuban Ministry of Tourism and tour operator Havanatur are
offering a one-day hosted trip to Cuba following the conference on
Atrip, which formally debuted in late June, bills itself as "an
association of professionals in support of freedom of travel. ...
we did not want to pigeonhole ourselves," Gibaldo said.
Atrip's board of directors includes the directors of ASTA, the
National Tour Association and the U.S. Tour Operators
Setting the stage for Atrip's Cuba conference was a one-day
forum in Washington last month that examined U.S. policy on Cuban
For conference details, visit www.atripusa.org.