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New Cuba travel milestone: Airbnb adds lodging rentals

New Cuba travel milestone: Airbnb adds lodging rentals

Posted by Juan Gavasa on April 02, 2015

Airbnb officials announced today that the community-driven hospitality company will be one of the first U.S. companies to offer accommodations to U.S. travelers who fit into the 12 categories of approved reasons to go to Cuba.

New rules put into place by President Obama's administration in January has made it easier for Americans to travel to Cuba. They cannot go as tourists but they can go for approved reasons such as educational activities, professional meetings, humanitarian projects and athletic competitions.

More than 1,000 listings are now available on Airbnb. About 40 percent are in Havana. The remaining listings are in cities such as Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Santa Clara. Airbnb expects to expand the number of listings. Cuba has already become one of the most searched for destinations in the company's listings, topping Latin American cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires and Mexico City.

"For over 50 years, Cuba has been out of reach for most Americans," Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said in a written release. "We couldn't be more excited that, starting today, licensed U.S. travelers will now be able to experience the unique culture and warm hospitality that makes the island so special through our new Cuban community."

Cuba already has a large network of casas particulares, which offer visitors home-stays and are run by locals.

Major U.S. hotel companies have also said they would like to have a presence in Cuba but that it is too early to make any moves.

Airlines too are slowly figuring out how they can expand direct service from the USA. They have only been able to offer charter flights for people-to-people tours, which was the only way Americans could legally visit Cuba up until recently.

Airbnb is offering Cuban hosts the same protection and benefits it offers hosts in any location, including the reimbursement of up to $1 million for property damage.

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