“I Can See a Bright Future for Cuba’s Tourism”
THIS U.S. ENTREPRENEUR, AT THE HELM OF THE LEADING COMPANY AMONG THE EIGHT CHARTER AGENCIES THAT COVER THE AIRLIFT BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND CUBA IN VIRTUE OF FAMILY VISITS AND EXCHANGES AUTHORIZED BY THE TWO NATIONS, FORESEES THAT HIS COMPANY WILL START RUNNING
17 WEEKLY FLIGHTS COME NEXT JUNE.
Ancestry, a way of talking, life and persona history whip the idea of a Cuban cigar into Cabañas –his Cuban family settled down in Key West back in 15, where he was born in 192, from parents who were closely linked to the island nation and its independence struggle.
In our long conversation, he recalls Fidel Castro and warns the tremendous and profound respect he feels for him as he remembers the support the revolutionary leader and his followers received by his family in Key West during the uprising preparations against the Fulgencio Batista regime.
“We all were members of the 26th of July Movement. My mother, together with my elder sister and my father, are founders (on American soil), while I joined in March 1957,” the impresario told Excelencias in a historic recap of both his life and his close ties with revolutionary Cuba, where he lived and worked for 28 years since 1961.
He didn’t skip references to the San Carlos Club, a patriotic, teaching and apolitical institution founded in 1871 that, under his father’s leadership, made a significant contribution to the Cuban Revolution back in the 1950s on American soil.
Mr. Cabañas got a degree in History at the University of Havana, took post-graduation courses on Psychology, Law and Foreign Trade, and worked at the Cuban People Friendship Institute and the Cuban television. In 1988, he went back to his homeland and became a businessman, first related to the world of television until 1991 “when I organized and set up my own charter flight company with a license granted by the U.S. government and the authorization I got from Celimar, Havanatur, of landing rights in Cuba.”
Competitive services and quality are the name of the game at C & T Charter Inc. Beginning in June, the company will start operating 17 weekly flights. On the island nation’s potentials beyond the realm of family travel, he says: “I believe there’s a very bright future for Cuba. The Cuban people share the wealth achieved by the Revolution, and that’s their education, their healthcare, their culture and their national identity.
“Right now, we provide all services for families, but we have requested a license to the U.S. government and we’ve called it Programa Pontis (Bridge Program), that will serve as a bridge for Americans to acquire knowledge, and that will include programs on architecture, music and many other topics…”
This project has been jointly developed with the Key West-cuba Heritage Institute and the support of academician Enrique Sosa, who has formulated, in the form of a theme trial, what he’s called Ten Ways of Getting to Cuba, featuring a similar number of programs for people linked to sports, cinema, painting, music, ecology, education, tobacco as a historic and identity phenomenon, among other fields, to travel to Cuba, Mr. Cabañas explains.
Running out of time, we asked Mr. Cabañas to offer us a perspective of what the future holds for a company like his or many other that might pop up and start making family reunification trips. We wonder if those journeys will also be good for the rediscovery of the country. He says: “I own one of the wholesale agencies in operation and it was named like that because indeed the perspective lies in the fact that Cuba should be treated as part of the Caribbean, taking into account that tomorrow’s tourism will be one of multidestination, so people traveling from the U.S. to Cuba could either go to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Puerto Rico or any other Caribbean nation, and enjoy several cultures, languages, nationalities within the Caribbean framework.
“I can see a bright future for Cuba’s tourism and I think it’s going to become a powerful industry. I hope Cubans in Florida will have the necessary vision to understand that good relations between our two countries could actually bring huge benefits for both sides.”