Marriott International Inc (NASDAQ:MAR) has received authorization from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in the US to take its operations to Cuba.
The company is already in negotiations to develop hospitality relationships with some potential partners, and the authorization brings the firm closer to its target. OFAC is part of the US Department of Treasury, and its approval will allow Marriott to pursue business in Cuba. The authorization was publicized during President Obama’s visit to the country.
Arne Sorenson, President and CEO of Marriott has been one of the influential supporters of the initiative for travel companies to be allowed operations in Cuba. He will also be in the country during Obama’s visit, and he will travel with Secretary Pritzker. Sorenson stated that the company was happy to receive authorization from the US government to seek business opportunities in the country. He added that a lot of work is required before they strike a deal but the firm is currently building relationships in the hospitality sector.
Sorenson stated that Marriott has been anticipating new opportunities from Cuba courtesy of the right frameworks that promote expanded travel to the country. He believes that the company’s entry into the Cuban market will offer significant benefits to the Cuban people while at the same time building ties with Americans. The company also plans to generate new opportunities for the hospitality sector as well as hospitality training for Cubans. It will introduce its brands and offer support to Cuban communities.
President Obama’s initiatives in the country are also some of the advantages that the company plans to leverage to strengthen its presence in the country. Obama stated that he intends to terminate the cold war that has existed between Cuba and the US for almost 60 years. The president further added that he plans to smooth relations between the two countries.
Marriott is already facing competition from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc (NYSE:HOT) and Airbnb which already have operations in the country.