Home rental website Airbnb announced Thursday that it opened its doors in Cuba to Americans traveling to the country under one of the 12 approved categories.
Less than three months after President Barack Obama eased travel restrictions to Cuba, the online lodgings marketplace has become one of the first American companies to establish itself in Cuba, offering more than 1,000 listings to people who are eligible to travel to the Caribbean island.
Almost 40 percent of the listed accommodations are located in Havana, while the rest are properties in tourist destinations such as Cienfuegos, a city on the southern coast, or Trinidad, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Prices range from $27 to $1,000 per night, with the average price of $47 for a room or apartment in Havana.
Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said in a written release that they believe Cuba will quickly become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.
“Hospitality isn’t a commodity in Havana — it’s a way of life. Cubans have been welcoming visitors into their homes for decades. Casas particulares — a network of private homestays — have been a popular choice for visitors, as well as an important source of income for thousands of Cuban families.”
Kay Kuehne, regional director for Airbnb, also thinks that the country has great potential for tourism.
“We believe that Cuba could become one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in Latin America 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.”
Airbnb’s Cuba services are currently only open to American travelers, but could expand to people from other countries. US citizens cannot go to Cuba as tourist but they can go for approved reasons, including family visits, educational activities, professional meetings and competitions and humanitarian projects.