With anticipation that President Obama will soon lift the travel ban on American tourists visiting Cuba, representatives of Cuba, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands met during the recent Miami International Boat Show to draft a strategy to handle the predicted influx of boats heading south.
Figures from the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida vessel registration authorities indicate that there are more than 600,000 boats in Florida alone that are capable of making the 90-mile sea voyage from South Florida to Cuba. U.S. boats have been barred from visiting Cuba for more than 50 years, and opening a floodgate of vessels would rapidly inundate Cuba’s marinas.
The representatives included Commodore Jose Miguel Diaz Escrich, representing Cuba’s major marina provider, Marlin; Dale B. Westin, representing the Port Authority of Jamaica; and Neville Scott, representing Cayman Island marina interests. All agreed that any relaxation of the travel ban for Americans to visit Cuba would have the effect of creating a new Central Caribbean cruising ground consisting primarily of Cuba, plus the Cayman Islands and Jamaica.
In addition to marketing the three-country cruising ground, the representatives forecast the formation of the Caribbean Marine Trades Association that would serve as an umbrella organization to promote yachting tourism to the Central and Western Caribbean. Today, the Eastern Caribbean is the significant yachting destination from the US and British Virgin Islands south to Trinidad and Tobago, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, and Turks and Caicos.
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