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TTC Special: Trump could face US businessmen because of Cuba

TTC Special: Trump could face US businessmen because of Cuba

Photo: xtockimages / 123RF

By F. Martin

TTC Service.- Donald Trump could face serious disputes with U.S. businessmen if finally applied his warnings about changing the policy of “normalization” towards Cuba.

Following a recent White House announcement about the possible end or limitation of the thaw with Havana, seems to raise the number of adverse opinions against the Trump’s threats about the process initiated by his predecessor Barack Obama in December 2014.

According to US business sources related to the Cuban market, leaving Cuba would hurt the American travel industry.

The impact of the possible Trump measures would be remarkable, costing the sector an estimated $712 million if the President rolls back Obama-era Cuban policies.

A study released from Washington lobby group Engage Cuba that revealed that indeed restricts travel to Cuba anew, it would cost airlines currently servicing the area $512 million. It also looked at the cruise lines heading to Cuba and estimated they would lose about $200 million annually.

Eliminating cruises to Cuba could also cost South Florida’s economy an additional $212.8 million, given what passengers spend in port communities, Cuba Engage said.

Skitt, a digital magazine specializing in tourism topics, interviewed several American hoteliers who consider that any measures against travel related to the United States could have a significant adverse impact not only on tourism businesses but in the national economy as a whole.

The publication quoted about the issue the Loews Hotels CEO Jonathan Tisch issued who called for the hospitality industry to rally together to prevent another “lost decade” of travel.

“Speaking to an audience of hospitality industry executives at the 39th annual NYU International Hospitality Conference in New York City on June 5, Tisch asked industry leaders to respond to a number of recent initiatives and policies being floated by President Trump including “extreme vetting,” travel bans, Skitt added.

“Ending this 10-year slump required a united industry effort to push for pro-travel policies” said Tisch, in reference to the more than $600 billion lost in traveler spending and 467,000 jobs lost following the September 11 attacks in 2001.

“We learned some valuable lessons that we need to put into action again today”, he said.

Tisch added that the travel industry generated $246 billion in U.S. exports in 2016, cutting nearly $90 billion off of the country’s trade deficit. “Travel drives the U.S. economy,” Tisch said.

Skitt wondered if the Trump Administration should reverse all agreements signed with Cuba since December 17, 2014, which includes legalized travel in certain categories. Marriott International inherited Starwood’s Cuba hotel agreements when it acquired the company in September, and currently it is operating one property in Havana, a Four Points by Sheraton, and planning to open its second soon.

“Cuba is a place Americans would like to go”, another Hotel CEO said to the digital magazine.

Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that “Cuba is an issue but there are much larger issues we are facing as an industry and our coming together and having our voices heard in this administration is vitally important”.

“In the last administration, group efforts were bumpy. It took a bunch of effort from folks in this room, and the U.S. Travel Association to get our voices heard. Travel is a very strong economic driver. More and more of our GDP is going to travel. I think that our voices need to get louder and louder in order to protect our customers and protect our industry”, Khosrowshahi added.

Another interviewed by Skitt was with Sebastien Bazin, AccorHotels CEO. The employer estimated that Cuba “is a wonderful destination”. Bazin added that “for Accor, we have three properties [in Cuba], and we may open up another 10. It’s a wonderful destination. Great culture.