With relations between the US and Cuba steadily improving, American companies are starting to expand business to the once alienated Caribbean island. It’s still technically illegal for American citizens to travel to Cuba as tourists, but that hasn’t stopped AirBnb from trying to establish a presence in the country. AirBnb has just announced that it’ll be opening its listings in Cuba to all visitors starting on April 2nd.
“It was viewed as a new idea and here it was something that was already familiar to the culture. There were tens of thousands of people that were already sharing their homes and so we felt like it wasn’t that big of a risk. And all we had to do was make sure the community embraced Airbnb,” Airbnb founder Brian Chesky.
AirBnb has actually been in Cuba for almost a year now, but it could only be used to rent local rooms to Americans, shutting out travellers from the rest of the world. With this move, AirBnb will be able to provide accommodations to everyone, which should benefit its overall business as the service has become popular all across the world. The tech company isn’t the only one making moves. US based hotel company Starwood Resorts has also signed a deal to refurbish and manage two hotels in the capital city of Havana. This is the first time a US hotel chain has operated in Cuba in over 50 years. It still may be some years away before Americans can easily visit the island, but these deals should positively foreshadow to what’s to come. If the opportunity is there, many feel that it’s best to visit Cuba early on to see the its genuine essence and character before major hotels buy up property and commercialize the hell out of it.
Coincidentally, these groundbreaking deals align with President Obama’s trip to Cuba, which is the first by a US president in 88 years.