WASHINGTON—(HISPANIC PR WIRE - BUSINESS WIRE)—July 7, 2003—Executive Director Brent Gibadlo today announced that the Association of Travel-Related Industry Professionals (ATRIP) has been established to give a voice to professionals in the travel industry who support the Constitutional right to freedom of travel for all Americans. As its first initiative to promote this Constitutional right, ATRIP has retained Patton Boggs LLP and is working with Members of Congress to lift the ban on travel to Cuba.
There is widespread support in favor of lifting the ban on travel both within the U.S. Congress and among Americans generally. For three successive years, Members of the House of Representatives have voted by increasing margins in favor of lifting the ban on travel to Cuba. Last year, they voted in favor by a margin of 262-167. ATRIP believes that the time has finally come to lift the ban on travel, not for the benefit of the Cuban government, but for the benefit of United States citizens and the United States travel industry.
The Honorable Mike Enzi (R-WY), along with Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), is leading the effort in the Senate to repeal the travel ban. “Americans should be able to travel to Cuba, without restrictions on money, baggage or any other arbitrary measure. What better way to share the rewards of democracy than through people to people exchanges? If we allow more and freer travel to Cuba, it will benefit both Cubans and Americans,” said Enzi. “I am pleased to see the dedicated professionals of the travel industry join us in our efforts and I hope that focusing attention on the importance of travel and sharing American values will help move the repeal of the travel ban forward.”
Senator Baucus said: “As the Congress recognized in 2000, expanded trade in agricultural goods is good for the Cuban people and good for American farmers. With the support of ATRIP, we look forward to persuading our colleagues and the Administration that sharing American values through increased travel will promote our national interest.”
Representative Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who is leading the repeal effort in the House of Representatives, said: “With congressional and public support for easing travel restrictions to Cuba growing every year, it’s a matter of time before our policy follows. We look forward to working with ATRIP and our traditional allies to achieve success this year.”
Ed Neyra, President of Neyra, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio stated: “As a Cuban-American business leader, I support ATRIP and believe that lifting the travel ban is the first step toward bringing democracy to Cuba.”
The current ban on travel to Cuba serves no national interest, it infringes upon the rights of Americans, and it punishes the United States travel industry at a time when it is already suffering. Americans are traveling less, airlines are facing bankruptcy, and travel agents are seeing their commissions reduced or eliminated. Studies estimate that if the ban on travel to Cuba were lifted, as many as 2.8 million Americans would visit Cuba annually. The ripple effect on consumer spending resulting from this increased travel could generate new jobs and as much as $1 billion per year in additional revenue for U.S. businesses.
The ban on travel to Cuba was first imposed more than forty years ago in an effort to topple the government of Fidel Castro. Forty years later, Fidel Castro is the longest serving head of state in the world. Clearly, the ban on travel has not served its stated purpose—but it has infringed the Constitutional rights of U.S. citizens. The Supreme Court has recognized that, in the absence of a compelling national interest, Americans should be allowed to travel the world to visit foreign countries first-hand and share their ideas and experiences with citizens of foreign countries. This is nowhere truer than in the case of Cuba.
ATRIP’s members come predominantly from the United States travel industry, but membership is open to any organization or individual who supports the lifting of unjustified barriers to the right of Americans to travel freely. Information about joining ATRIP can be obtained by visiting the ATRIP web site at http://www.atripusa.org or by calling ATRIP Executive Director, Brent Gibadlo, at (202) 872-5071.
Association of Travel-Related Industry Professionals
Brent Gibadlo, 202/872-5071