Tour Operator Friendly Planet Travel Acquires InsightCuba

by Barbara Peterson
Tour Operator Friendly Planet Travel Acquires InsightCuba

Photo: Shutterstock

Friendly Planet Travel, a global tour operator based in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, has agreed to acquire New York-based Cuba specialist insightCuba. The transaction unites two tour companies that are licensed to offer programs to Cuba, although insightCuba operates exclusively to that country. 

The acquisition comes on the heels of recent moves by the U.S. government to tighten restrictions on U.S. citizens’ ability to visit Cuba. Recently, the U.S. virtually eliminated the popular “people-to-people" category of approved travel to the country, and put an end to cruises to Havana from American ports.

Peggy Goldman, founder and president of Friendly Planet, emphasized that U.S. citizens can still travel to Cuba, despite the confusion caused by the policy changes. She added that by joining forces, the companies would be in a stronger position to get that message out to the public. “Travel to Cuba by Americans is legal, and there is demand for this incredible destination that cannot be undone,” she said. “We are bullish on the future.”

Among other things, clients may not be aware that they can still go to Cuba under a “support for the Cuban people” category, either with an organized tour or as individuals, as long as they stay in private bed and breakfasts instead of hotels, patronize home-based restaurants, and adhere to other rules. There are 12 categories of permitted travel, including family visits, academic pursuits, religious travel, humanitarian activities, and professional meetings. 

In a statement, Tom Popper, who founded insightCuba nearly 20 years ago, acknowledged that the timing of his company’s sale “might turn some heads in the travel industry.” But he expressed confidence that the current chill on relations between the countries will reverse, saying that “pent-up demand for U.S. travel to Cuba remains high.” 

That demand had surged following the resumption of diplomatic ties with Cuba in 2015, when the U.S. restored air service between the countries and a number of major airlines rushed in to start the first regularly scheduled flights in 50 years. Total visitor arrivals from all countries hit a record 4.8 million in 2018, according to Cuban Tourism Board statistics, and while that fell short of the country’s goal of 5.1 million annual visitors, it represents a 60% increase in arrivals over a five-year period. However, U.S. arrivals this year are expected to be down from recent years, according to the tourism board’s forecasts.

Under the terms of the sale, the two firms will continue to operate independently, and Popper will continue to lead insightCuba. Other terms of the sale are undisclosed.

Could not load file or assembly 'System.Net.Http.Primitives, Version=, Culture=neutral, PublicKeyToken=b03f5f7f11d50a3a' or one of its dependencies. The located assembly's manifest definition does not match the assembly reference. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x80131040)

The World’s Best Events to Build Trips Around

All travel advisors can benefit from adding events to their trip-planning services, further expanding their ability to help their clients have unforgettable travel experiences - the kind that they’ll tell their grandkids about some day.

TMR Recommendations
Top Stories
Navigating Overtourism with The Travel Corporation

The global brand is taking bold steps around the world to create a lasting, positive impact on the destinations we visit, and to spread the word by educating agents and their clients.

Collette Introduces 22 New Tours for 2020

The company is focusing on expansion of its small group Explorations series to places like Spain, Portugal, the Baltics, and Patagonia.

Avanti Destinations Expands into New Regions

The provider of custom-designed independent packages is growing its destinations and itineraries in 2019 and 2020.

New Apple CEO and D.R.’s Minister of Tourism Address Advisors at ALG’s First Ascend Summit

Dominican Republic official assures advisors that the country is as safe as ever and asks for their support in educating the public.

Hotel Executives on Headwinds Caused by Media Coverage of Dominican Republic

Industry leaders talk about what the travel industry needs to do to change the negative narrative that has been created around the Caribbean country.

Former Silversea CEO Amerigo Perasso to Lead Abercrombie & Kent

He replaces founder Geoffrey Kent, who will now serve as co-chairman.

News Briefs
Tip of the Day

"Most people do want to experience new things. There is a small percentage, maybe 10%-15%, who always want to do the same thing: Either return to the same all-inclusive or take the same cruise line to the same Caribbean islands."

Stephanie Goldberg-Glazer

Live Well, Travel Often

Daily Top List

Five Rugby World Cup 2019 Host Cities

  1. Sapporo
  2. Kamaishi, Iwate Pref. 
  3. Kumagaya, Saitama Preg. 
  4. Tokyo 
  5. Yokohama, Kanagawa Pref.

Source: JapanTimes

TMR Outlooks
Advertiser's Voice
Advertiser's Voice: USTOA's Recalculating with Harrison Greenbaum – Episode 2 (Dining in Mexico City)