Classic Journeys Introduces People-to-People Cultural Exchange to Cuba

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Cultural travel company now offers educational exchange program to the once-inaccessible island-nation.

Classic Journeys, the award-winning cultural travel company which offers boutique guided tours in over 70 regions, 34 countries, and 5 continents, announced today the addition of people-to-people cultural exchange programs to Cuba. Fidel Castro assumed power in Cuba in 1959, and beginning in 1962 US citizens were prohibited from traveling to the island-nation except under extremely restricted circumstances. In 2011, the Obama administration instituted new rules that allowed for educational cultural exchanges to Cuba as a way of improving relations with the Cuban people. Classic Journeys has been awarded a license by the US Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC) to operate such an educational cultural exchange (called a “people-to-people cultural exchange”).

Now in its 18th season, Classic Journeys’ mission has always been to offer authentic, immersive travel experiences. This series of programs recognizes the value in establishing deeper cultural understanding and interaction between citizens of Cuba and the United States. The company’s belief is that the best way to experience a country is to meet the natives in person, talk to them about their lives, and to take time to understand their history and culture. As such, Classic Journeys has created a full, guided program of educational encounters and personal meetings with Cuban people from all strata of society. The itinerary includes visits to places of historical, economic, and ecological importance. Highlights from the itinerary include: meetings with the artists and residents of the Luyano area, a local community development project independent of State authorities; a local-led exploration of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Habana Vieja; discussions with religious leaders about the Santeria religion and Afro-Cubano culture; and a look into the world of Ernest Hemingway during his time in Cuba, as led by the director of the Museo Ernest Hemingway, among several other adventures.

An important differentiating characteristic of Classic Journeys’ people-to-people exchange programs is the countryside walking that is included in the Vinales Valley west of Havana. These walks through the countryside compliment the walking in Havana, and provide the travelers with access to Las Terrazas, a sustainable community in the mountains of the Sierra del Rosario Biosphere Reserve; visits to working coffee and tobacco farms that include meetings with campesinos at work in their fields; and opportunities to interact with the teachers and students in a small village school.

Classic Journeys founder, Edward Piegza, explains, “We are thrilled to add this people-to-people exchange to our lineup of cultural walking adventures. We’ve maintained a lifelong belief at Classic Journeys in the power of travel to create and sustain powerful cultural connections, and so this program in Cuba was a natural addition to our portfolio. With this program, we’ll now be able to offer interested travelers direct personal engagement with a culture and place which has had highly limited access to Americans. And we’re particularly proud that our way of travel—small group, locally-guided, cultural walking adventures— which syncs so seamlessly with OFAC’s requirements for people-to-people exchange.”

Classic Journeys has departures to Cuba scheduled for June, October, November, and December 2013, and January, February, March, and April 2014. For more information about pricing and Classic Journeys, please visit their website at http://www.ClassicJourneys.com.

For any additional information, please contact Emily Aschbrenner [emily(at)ellecomm(dot)com] at Elle Communications.

About Classic Journeys
Classic Journeys offers cultural walking adventures, culinary tours and family journeys in North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the South Pacific. Guests enjoy luxury accommodations and gourmet meals that reflect the best of each region, coupled with soft adventure activities, daily interactions with locals, and native guides who make countries and cultures come alive. Tours are six to 12 days long with two to four hours of easy-going walking per day. Land-only tour prices range from $2595 to $8895 per person (with discounts for small groups and children traveling with parents). Average tour size is 10, limited to a maximum of 18 guests per departure. Full details and links to itineraries are available at http://www.ClassicJourneys.com.

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Emily Aschbrenner
Elle Communications
760.213.1300
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