Kellman keen on US-Cuba link-up
Barbados should position itself to cash in on the expected opening up of the Cuba-United States travel market, says Ambassador to CARICOM Denis Kellman.
Kellman made the suggestion yesterday after returning home from a brief business visit to Havana.
“There is a lot of talk about Cuba taking most of the tourist traffic that would normally go to English-speaking Caribbean countries when the Cuba-United States market opens up,” he told the DAILY NATION.
“But we have to stop thinking negatively and look at the positives. For one thing, there will be a greater focus on Caribbean destinations and a lot of people who would not normally come here might be encouraged to visit Barbados and other CARICOM countries.”
According to Kellman, Barbados’ tourism promoters and developers need to be “proactive” about the Cuban tourist prospects.
Kellman was in Cuba with a Barbados Government delegation headed by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Maxine McClean.
The highlights of the visit included participation in the Cuba-CARICOM ministerial meeting and the opening of the Barbados Embassy.
The visit took place against the backdrop of American Press reports that the Obama administration was preparing to ease travel restrictions between the United States and Cuba.
Washington severed diplomatic relations with Cuba in 1961 and has had an economic embargo in place since 1962.
Americans seeking to travel to Cuba must obtain permission to do so and must fit into special categories, like journalists or people visiting a close relative.
Kellman said Cuban leaders still talked of the support they received from Caribbean prime ministers like former Barbados Prime Minister Errol Barrow in the early days of the trade embargo.
“In the cold war times, when people were distancing themselves from the Cubans, a number of Caribbean countries virtually adopted the foreign policy stance of Barrow – that we are friends of all and satellites of none,” Kellman recalled.
“The Cubans today are very appreciative of the support they received from the likes of Barrow, [Dr] Eric Williams of Trinidad and Tobago, Michael Manley of Jamaica, and Forbes Burnham of Guyana.” (TY)