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NTA Commends Restored Air Service to Cuba

February 18, 2016

The National Tour Association commends the U.S. Department of Transportation for its signing of an arrangement with Cuba to formally restore air service between the countries, an important step forward for U.S. and Cuba relations that will greatly benefit Americans and Cubans alike.

NTA has been a leading voice during ongoing attempts to restore normal travel operations with Cuba and is proud to have stood firm in supporting the freedom to travel. Tuesday’s announcement by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to provide for the re-establishment of scheduled air services between the United States and Cuba is a considerable accomplishment for citizens and stakeholders from both countries.

Immediately following the signing, DOT invited U.S. air carriers to apply for an allocation of the new opportunities to provide scheduled passenger and cargo flights. The agreement allows for up to 20 roundtrip flights between the United States and Havana, and 10 roundtrip flights at each of Cuba’s other airports, for a total of 110 daily roundtrip flights between the countries.

Tuesday’s actions coincide with the decision by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to initiate a rule change regarding flights to and from Cuba. CBP will seek to repeal Cuba-related regulations that have been deemed redundant with current regulations. Once the regulations are repealed, flights to and from Cuba would be subject to the same legal requirements as other international flights.

NTA has consistently stated that normalized relations with Cuba would benefit the U.S economy and be a boon for the travel and tourism sector. Increased economic activity between the United States and Cuba will have a significantly positive impact on U.S. travel and tourism, the nation’s largest service export. According to data from the Department of Commerce, the industry generates upwards of $2.1 trillion in economic output, supports 14.9 million jobs and represents $134 million in tax revenue. On average, travelers to the U.S. spend $2.4 billion a day, $101.4 million an hour, $1.7 million a minute and $28,154 a second.

Tuesday’s order invites applications from U.S. carriers and initiates a formal proceeding for DOT to select which U.S. carriers will be able to offer scheduled flights to Cuba-and from which U.S. points. Applications to offer service to Cuba are due to DOT on March 2, 2016.

NTA is pleased with the progress that has been made in the advancement of normalized relations with Cuba and is optimistic about the positive benefits that will follow for the U.S. travel and tourism sector. Founded in 1951, NTA is now the leading association for packaged travel professionals (representing more than 40 countries) interested in the North American market—to, from and within.

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