Friday, March 22, 2013

Austin Chamber of Commerce organizes trips to Cuba

Austin Chamber of Commerce organizes trips to Cuba
by Gene Davis
March 21, 2013

In an effort to promote education and connection, the Austin Chamber of
Commerce and Chamber Explorations are hosting two organized trips to Cuba.

"Rediscover Cuba–A Cultural Exploration," which is scheduled for April
26–May 4 and June 14–22, will include visits to historical sites such as
the Cathedral de la Havana, the Museo Fine Arts and author Ernest
Hemingway's farm. At night, attendees will be able to see the nightlife
with dancing, dining and drinking.

"It's an opportunity that is something different and outside the box,"
said Jan Riepen, Austin Chamber of Commerce senior vice president. "Your
whole world opens up beyond what you usually experience."

Since 2011, U.S. cultural tourism groups have been allowed to travel to
Cuba as long as the trip is organized through a licensed operator as a
"people-to-people exchange" and meets certain educational or cultural
requirements. The chamber-organized Cuba trip meets those requirements,
providing a rare opportunity for exploration in the nation, Riepen said.

Riepen said Cuba is especially interesting because it is a step back in
time, with cars, culture and infrastructure from decades past.

The Cuba trips are part of the chamber's Global Connections Program.
Previous trips have gone to China and Tuscany, and all provide
opportunities for people from different backgrounds and occupations to
connect with each other in a meaningful and lasting way, Riepen said.

"I feel like when I got back, I had 200 new good friends," Riepen said.

The Austin chamber is having an information session on the trip March 26
at 5:30 p.m. at its office at 535 E. Fifth St. The session will have
registration information, details about the trip and tips for global travel.

People can RSVP for the information session by contacting Riepen at
512-322-5640 or

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