A group with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce returned Sunday from a five-day trip to Cuba.
The group, made up of 38 business and political representatives, focused on learning about Cuba's culture and economic structure. They had a full itinerary that included a visit to Old Havana and speaking with representatives from Cuba's Chamber of Commerce.
Those who traveled to Cuba said the visit was essential to forging a relationship.
"As Cuba is being discussed in Washington, we want to be there so we can understand the best way for Tampa to proceed as a community," said Bob Rohrlack, the president of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
Rohrlack said the embargo makes a business relationship between Tampa and Cuba impossible. Still, he saw potential when he went there.
"There are limited trade things that can go on, medical trade can go on, there are some humanitarian missions that go on, cultural exchanges can happen, how can we help make that happen," Rohrlack said.
Rohrlack said promoting the direct flights that are offered between Cuba and Tampa are key to future opportunities.
The Chamber's treasurer, Ronald Christaldi, agreed.
"I see tourism potential," Christaldi said after visiting Cuba. "At its core level, they're people just like us and they're hungry for interaction with the United States."
This is the first international trip the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce has made. They hope to return to Cuba and visit other countries that could benefit Tampa.
The group that traveled to Cuba will meet later this month to share their thoughts on the trip.