Airbnb is a home-rental service travelers use as an alternative to pricey hotels. It has become pretty common. Starting today, April 2 2015, American traverers will be able to book a place to stay using Airbnb. According to The Big Story, this is the most significant business expansion for the United States to Cuba since the declaration of détente between the US and Cuba last year.
Since December of last year Airbnb saw a 70% increase from United States users searching for listings in Cuba reported Business Insider. December was when President Obama had announced that limitations in traveling to Cuba would be lessened. Currently only United States citizens are able to use Airbnb’s booking service.
While more than 1,000 properties are currently listed, Airbnb believes that Cuba will probably become one of its largest Latin American markets. However, the concept of Airbnb is not new to residents of Cuba. According to BBC hosts have rented rooms out to travelers for decades.
Travel writer Simon Calder, senior travel editor for The Independent newspaper does not believe that Airbnb will be as successful. Calder says, “While Airbnb is a valuable alternative for millions of travelers, in the context of Cuba, because of the high margins it takes from every transaction, it won’t necessarily meet with great success.” He continued, saying, “All the Cuban bed-and-breakfast providers I know would like to keep all the money rather than handing 15% or more to an American corporation.”
Calder also makes not of the extremely slow internet in Cuba which will obviously get in the way.
BBC also reported, Americans have been allowed to travel is they have received the proper licensing to do so. The license is given to those seeking to visit family, for educational purposes or public performances.
As Wired summarized in their article, “The move makes Airbnb one of the first tech companies to capitalize on the improving diplomatic relations between the neighboring countries, but it won’t be the last, as American businesses across the country eye Cuba as a potential source of growth.”