HOLLYWOOD – Broward County has taken the first step to become a gateway for United States residents to travel to Cuba. The Broward County Board of County Commissioners voted today in favor of sending a letter from Mayor Stacy Ritter to the U.S. Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Assets Control to approve Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) as an entry port/gateway for air service between South Florida and Cuba and for Port Everglades to be designated as an entry port/gateway for passenger ferry service between South Florida and Cuba.
According to U.S. Census American Community Survey, there are more than 899,000 residents of Cuban descent in the Tri-County area. “The Broward County Airport and Seaport are well situated to serve the populations in Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties so they can visit their relatives,” said Mayor Ritter.
In February 1963, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the United States Government imposed restrictions on travel between the United States and Cuba. This policy continued until April 13, 2009, when President Barack Obama announced a lifting of restrictions by allowing Cuban-Americans to travel between the United States and Cuba to visit family members.
For an airport or seaport to receive passenger traffic from Cuba, it must be designated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury as an entry port or gateway. Currently there are three U.S. airports designated as gateways: Los Angeles, New York-Kennedy, and Miami.
The low-cost carriers at FLL can offer travelers an economical alternative to travel to Cuba that they might otherwise not be able to afford. In addition to low fares, ease of access, and central location in South Florida, FLL is presently expanding its Customs and Border Protection facilities which will double the capacity to process international passengers by the end of this year.
Port Everglades already has the infrastructure, U.S. Customs and Border Protection presence, and security procedures in place to effectively handle a passenger ferry service between South Florida and Cuba. Several major marine ferry lines have expressed an interest in gateway status for Port Everglades. The Port also currently hosts low-cost ferry type services to the Bahamas which handle both passengers and cargo that may also support travel to and from Cuba.