As reported today in The Wall Street Journal, the two hotel companies, Marriott and Starwood—which are expected to become one company by June—have applied to the appropriate government entities in Cuba and the U.S. to start operating business in Cuba—and could close on deals before U.S. President Obama visits the island in March 20.
“We are optimistic that we are going to get a green light soon from the U.S. government to have hotels under the Marriott flag in Cuba,” Thomas Marder, a Marriott spokesman, told The Wall Street Journal.
Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson, who also serves as vice chair of the President’s Export Council, will join President Obama’s visit in Cuba.
Many U.S. based companies including Starwood have applied to do business in the Caribbean country since Obama announced in December 2014 that the U.S. would restore its ties with Cuba after a more than 50-year Cold War.
While Airbnb was successful in beginning its operations in April 2015, other tourism companies are still waiting for approvals to clear the way for them to begin doing business. Carnival Corp. and Norwegian Cruise Line, as well as a number of other U.S.-base cruise lines have clearance from U.S. officials to call in Cuba, but haven’t received approval yet from Cuban officials.
Earlier this month, at least eight U.S. airline carriers applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation outlining what routes they would like to fly to Cuba. Both American Airlines and JetBlue Airways currently operate charter flights from the U.S. to Cuba.