Hampton Roads Chamber sponsors trip to Cuba

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – It could be a much needed vacation with a historic twist you’ll never forget — the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce wants you to join them on a trip to Cuba. With newly restored relations between the U.S. and Cuba, they’re hoping to make that trip happen soon.

Sponsoring a trip to expose Tidewater residents to other cultures is nothing new for the chamber of commerce. The organization has been doing it since 2010.

“In the past, we’ve gone to Austria, Italy, Spain, even China, and this was one of the one’s they wanted to go to,” said J.C. Kreidel, Vice President of Membership & Communications for the Chamber.

“For a lot of citizens, it’s the first time they’ve had exposure to Cuba in more than 50 years. We’re really excited about this,” Kreidel continued. “Given what’s going on with the Obama administration lifting certain sanctions, this just was great timing for us and a really fantastic opportunity.”

The trip is different, historic. They’re heading to a place that’s been isolated for half a century.

In December, President Obama announced a major shift to expand economic ties with Cuba, open an embassy in Havana and send high-ranking U.S. officials into the country. With that, our chamber is hoping to be one of the first in the Commonwealth to organize a trip there, not just for the business community, but anyone in the community who wants to join.

And even though tourist travel to Cuba is still banned, in general, this educational activity would put you on a plane.

“It’s an educational and cultural exchange, meaning our citizens will get to go and spend time with the citizens there and see what their everyday life is like,” Kreidel said. “They’ll be able to see a wide range of things, be exposed to the Cuban ballet, and for those who have been tempted for years, we’ll be going to a Cuban cigar factory. It’d be a great time to set that stage for perhaps one day having a great trade relationship between Cuba, our region, the Commonwealth and the country as a whole.”

The trip will be nine days and eight nights away, May 28 to June 5. It costs $3,599 for a double occupancy room. That’s an all-inclusive price leaving out of Miami.

If you’re interested, there’s an informational session at the chamber office on February 17. Click here for more details.

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