April 2, 2015
If you’re planning to travel to Cuba, you can rent a room or apartment in Cuba through Airbnb. The Airbnb announcement is the latest in a series business expansions into Cuba by American companies. Netflix and MasterCard recently made their services in Cuba available to both travelers and Cuban citizens.
According to the Associated Press (AP) , Airbnb searches for homes in “Cuba” will offer more than 1,000 properties across the island. The startup has been working with Cuban home owners to curate their platform and will continue to expand steadily this year. Currently, the platform and mobile app allows users to book rooms in over 190 countries worldwide.
“We believe that Cuba could become one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in Latin America,” said Kay Kuehne, regional director for Airbnb shared with Michael Weissenstein of the Associated Press. “We are actually plugging into an existing culture of micro-enterprise in Cuba. The hosts in Cuba have been doing for decades what we just started doing seven years ago.”
The Airbnb move could be the most significant development in terms of putting money in the pockets of entrepreneurs across the island. As one of the most important part of Cuba’s entrepreneurial sector, thousands of Cubans have been renting privately owned rooms and houses for tourist known as casas particulares or private homes.
A major advantage for Airbnb is that it won’t have to be tied up in the politics of the country, since the company connects customers to people with real estate. As US relations with Cuba begin to relax, more companies are starting to look for opportunities to invest and market their products to Cuba’s 11.5 million citizens.
Kuehne told AP that Airbnb’s plans had been welcomed by both Cuban and U.S. authorities. Since the announcement of detente in January, Cuba has been struggling to accommodate the increasing number of travelers. Trips to the island have been up “nearly 20 percent in recent months, mostly by non-U.S. travelers.”
Because of continuing restrictions under the U.S. embargo, the company’s Cuba listing will only be available to U.S. travelers visiting under one of 12 U.S.-government approved categories of legal travel.
Read AP for full story
Image Credit: Jaume Escofet on Flickr
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