Members of a local group that promotes international trade returned last week from talks with Cuban officials over establishing business ties between Tampa and the island nation.
Steve Michelini, the World Trade Center of Tampa Bay's managing director, said 14 representatives of the group met with high-ranking officials who oversee Cuba's import agency, tourism board, and the airport and port in Havana. "They were very interested in Tampa and still a little tentative about Miami," he said.
The World Trade Center of Tampa Bay called on the Tampa Port Authority and Hillsborough County Aviation Authority to push for direct shipping and air connections between Tampa and Cuba. Tampa International Airport has applied to the Treasury Department to authorize flights between the airport and Cuba for close relatives of Cuban nationals.