Florida has million of tourism dollars on the line waiting to see what is done with the Cuba deal
The United States deal with Cuba is a very important topic in both the Tampa Bay area and in Miami. Everyone is waiting to see if President elect Donald Trump is going to do. Will he make good on his promise to “cancel” President Barack Obama’s one-sided Cuban deal.”
Both Trump and his vice president, Mike Pence, have emphasized that they would work to undo President Barack Obama’s efforts to normalize relations between the two countries.
It is matter that polarizes the Cuban community with the older generation less likely to want to do business with the island nation. Meanwhile, younger Cuban Americans see no reason not to try to move forward.
However, it is also possible that with hundreds of millions of tourism, potential construction and agriculture deals on the table President elect Trump could reconsider his stance. He may very well try to work-out a new deal with Cuba. Something he did say early in his campaign.
Meanwhile, the first scheduled flight to Cuba in more than 50 years, a JetBlue plane packed with officials and tourists, departed Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport for Santa Clara, Cuba on Aug. 31 — a moment touted by the federal government as a landmark.
President Obama announced dramatic changes in U.S. policy toward Havana starting in December 2014. Saying he wanted to end the last vestige of the Cold War, he decided to reestablish diplomatic relations, broken more than 50 years ago, and eased economic sanctions on the island.
This became good news for the Sunshine State tourism at the time. The state of Florida and in particular the Tampa, Orlando, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale were among the ten cities named by the United States government opening up air travel, allowing up ten flights a day to Cuba. The others were, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and New York.
The airlines getting the green light to fly to Cuba are Alaska, American, Delta, Frontier, JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit and United. Two airlines already doing a brisk business are Jet Blue and American.
Their flights are loaded with tourists, businessmen, academics and journalists fly in and out of Cuba every day, perhaps the most dramatic and visible sign of the thaw in Washington-Havana relations since the restoration of relations nearly two years ago.
There is also the cruse and ferry business that Tampa, Miami and other Florida ports hope to use as a gateway to Cuba. That business is coming a bit slower than expected but it is on track.
Meanwhile, in Havana, new hotels are being built, tourist buses are everywhere and tourists are packing restaurants and nightclubs, and turning the government-run tourism industry into a major source of revenue for the impoverished island.
Also, in the Bay Area, there is a competition between St. Petersburg and Tampa to land the United States Consulate for Cuba. Both cities want the distinction to be home to that all important government building.
As we said earlier in the story it is hard to read where a President Trump would come down on this issue.
“Fifty years is enough time, folks,” Trump said during a CNN televised debate, but then he supported relations with Cuba but added that he would have negotiated “a better deal” with Havana.
Then just before the Florida primary back in March he changed his mind. In an effort win the votes of Cuban-American Republicans in South Florida, he promised to reverse the Obama opening.
“We will cancel Obama’s one-sided Cuban deal, made by executive order, if we do not get the deal that we want and the deal that people living in Cuba and here deserve, including protecting religious and political freedom,” he declared in Miami just a week before the general election.
Meanwhile, Sen. Marco Rubio, Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Mario Díaz-Balart and Carlos Curbelo — all Cuban Americans from South Florida who oppose Obama’s policies on Cuba — were reelected.
But once again President elect Trump is all about jobs and there is bi-partisan support to continue to move toward normalize relations with Cuba.
It won’t take too long for everyone to find out how President elect Trump deals with the matter. He will act on it sometime in his first 100 days and so around the late Spring we are likely to know.