By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Indian River County residents should make sure their passports are in order, because two opportunities to travel to exotic locales are within reach.
The Sebastian River Area and the Indian River County chambers of commerce have joined together to offer two international trips to their chamber members and members of the community, a summer trip to Cuba and a fall trip to Tuscany, Italy.
Though the announcement only went out one week ago, the word has been spreading and the phones at the two chambers have been ringing off the hook.
Beth Mitchell, executive director of the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce, said the calls have been coming in primarily for the eight-day trip to Cuba, slated for June 21, which was expected.
"There has been a pent-up demand to go and see Cuba. People are very interested, very curious to visit Cuba and do it legally, which is what this group offers," Ms. Mitchell.
"The heads of both chambers have been talking about the possibility of a joint trip between both chamber members and members of the community for about six months," said Penny Chandler, executive director for the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce.
The company chosen to organize the trip is Chamber Explorations, a national company that has worked with other chambers to organize similar trips around the globe, Ms. Chandler said.
Participants on the trip will have the opportunity to have a walking tour of old Havana, the Cuban Literacy Museum, Hemingway's Farm, the Francisco Donatien Cigar Factory, among other stops with cultural and historical significance.
Chamber Explorations has been issued a specific license by the Department of the Treasury, office of foreign assets control, to permit registered guests to visit Cuba.
The trip to Tuscany is scheduled for Nov. 1 and will also be an eight-day visit, Ms. Chandler said.
"To determine which packages would be offered, it was as easy as asking Chamber Explorations which trips were the most popular with other chambers," she said. "Our members like to do things together and we thought this was the perfect thing to do."
The trips are open to chamber members and members of the public. Ticket costs are available on request.
Details are available online at www.indianriverchamber.com or www.sebastianchamber.com.
For more information, contact Ms. Chandler at the Indian River County Chamber of Commerce at (772) 567-3491 or Beth Mitchell at the Sebastian River Area Chamber of Commerce at (772) 589-5969.