The U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments recently approved ferry services between Florida and Cuba for four companies, with more companies anticipating approval in the near future. The ferry companies plan to offer trips that would be less expensive than charter flights.
This is just another result of President Obama’s decision in December 2014 to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba, which has led to an ease of travel and trade but not a lifting of the embargo, as I wrote about in our two-part web feature on boating and Cuba. As of now, the ferries will only be carrying passengers traveling to Cuba for family visits, religious missions and education activities.
While tourism in Cuba may not be within reach yet and a lifting of the trade embargo will likely take years even with Congress’s approval, it’s great to see that as relations with Cuba continue to move, the boating industry and its interests remain in the conversation. Regardless of the ifs or whens, other industries such as charter flights are moving aggressively toward establishing a presence in the nation and creating a gateway for U.S. residents.
What is most important for the boating industry is to keep from being left behind. We should be dedicating time to finding opportunities to make sure boating is a part of the framework in building relations with Cuba, whatever that may be. Otherwise, it will be our own loss.