Monday, August 18, 2014

Industry tour of Cuba set for early 2015

Industry tour of Cuba set for early 2015
Posted on August 15th, 2014
Written by Reagan Haynes

Cuba is gaining attention as a potential trade partner for the marine
industry as some speculate whether the United States will lift its
half-century trade embargo with the country.

Marina consultant Richard Graves and Associates is planning a
U.S.-sanctioned industry tour of the country for Feb. 18-22, directly
after the Miami International Boat Show, to help interested parties save
on airfare.

The National Marine Manufacturers Association also has a small
delegation of select members touring the island now who are interested
in learning more about its industry potential, the NMMA confirmed to
Trade Only Today.

"I firmly believe the embargo will soon be lifted. It doesn't make sense
and solves nothing. In fact, most people don't even know how it started
over 50 years ago," Graves and Associates principal Richard Graves told
Trade Only Today. "In recent surveys the majority of Americans believe
the embargo should be lifted. It is also interesting to note that most
Cubans in the U.S. under 40 also believe the embargo should end."

Graves told Trade Only that he fears the United States will be left out
of potential growth and development if it doesn't lift the embargo
sooner rather than later.

"Spain is building the marinas, France is building the hotels, the
Chinese are investing, and even Putin is offering help in the
construction of their shipping port—and the U.S. is left out," Graves
said. "Raul Castro has even made an overture to the U.S. to renew

Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean and the 16th-largest island
in the world.

Anticipating the end of the travel ban, Cuban state enterprises
responsible for marine infrastructure have begun an unprecedented push
to prepare the island nation for yacht tourism and U.S. boaters.
Although there are only 15 marinas with 789 slips, there are plans to
add 23 more marinas with more than 5,000 slips, Graves said.

The expansion of Marina Gaviota at Varadero, 90 miles from the Florida
Keys, is intended to help augment facilities for large recreational vessels.

Accompanying the marina will be a five-star villa hotel development.
Plans show a marina complex akin to Atlantis at Nassau in the Bahamas or
St. Tropez in France, only larger.

After extensive renovations and a massive expansion, Marina Gaviota
Varadero will become Cuba's largest and most modern marina. When
complete, it will accommodate about 1,200 boats. An official opening is
planned for 2015, but vessels are using the marina now.

Last year, Cuban President Raul Castro announced the end of travel
restrictions, making it easier for millions of Cubans to leave the
communist country.

Parties interested in participating in the tour with Graves must submit
paperwork and be approved by Oct. 1.

"NMMA facilitated a [U.S.-sanctioned] research trip to Cuba on behalf of
its members with the objective to understand the market and make
meaningful contacts and connections that may benefit recreational
boating," NMMA spokeswoman Ellen Hopkins told Trade Only.

The NMMA does not have an official position on the current or future
status of the U.S. trade embargo with Cuba and continues to abide by the
trade restrictions the United States has imposed, she added.

Source: Industry tour of Cuba set for early 2015 | Trade Only Today -

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