It appears that Netflix isn’t the only tech company looking to take advantage of the “Cuban Thaw”, the recent decision by the Obama administration to warm up trade and travel relations between the US and Cuba after decades of restrictions.
Home rental service Airbnb has officially expanded into Cuba.
“We believe that Cuba could become one of Airbnb’s biggest markets in Latin America,” Kay Kuehne, regional director for Airbnb, told the AP. “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.”
Kuehne says that both the US and Cuba are supportive of Airbnb’s moves.
If you search the Airbnb website for Cuban accommodations, you’ll turn up more than 1,000 listings. Apparently, the majority (about 40%) are in and around Havana. Only US travelers can book Cuban stays on Airbnb.
Unlike Netflix, whose core service is hampered by internet access issues enough to make the move into Cuba a bit meaningless at the time being, Airbnb’s core business (travel) is about to be booming.
As of right now, Americans can only travel to Cuba if their visit falls into one of 12 government-sanctioned reasons. These include family visits, journalistic activities, religious purposes, humanitarian projects, and educational activities. Of course, Americans wanting to head to Cuba for a simple vacation can take liberties with their motivations.
Airbnb is currently available in over 190 countries and 34,000+ cities. It’s likely that Cuba will soon become one of Airbnb’s most popular destinations.
Images via Emmanuel Huybrechts, Wikimedia Commons and Airbnb