As Cuban and American diplomatic relations thaw, one North Texas travel agency is eager to meet growing demand of Americans who wish to travel to the hermit island.
"I just think there's a lot of excitement, and with a country that's so close to the U.S.," said Frances Harrison, Founder of Conscious Cuba, the Texas-based travel agency specializing in people-to-people trips to the island.
"We put people in situations and activities where you are meeting musicians and artists and owners of private restaurants," Harrison said.
For years, specialized "cultural trips" were one of the only ways Americans could legally visit Cuba. However, it is not a sit-on-the-beach kind of a vacation. People-to-people tours are a full immersion into Cuban culture with itineraries approved by the Cuban government.
"I believe in celebrating the Cuban Culture because it's worth celebrating," Harrison said. Her list of eager travelers is growing, but she warns people need to be careful about who they trust to plan their cultural vacation.
Americans can still only visit for one of 12 approved purposes. While there are plenty of things to see and do, flights and high-end hotels are limited.
Though Harrison is hopeful, she believes more travel will lead to stronger diplomatic ties.
"What's beautiful about it – is it gives Americans and Cubans a space to start a dialogue."