Feds Give Airbnb Nod to Expand

U.S. Treasury's OK sets bigger stage for the company in Cuba.

A Cuban Airbnb host (AP Photo/Desmond Boylan)

This is your first of three free stories this month. Become a free or sustaining member to read unlimited articles, webinars and ebooks.

Become A Member

Travelers from all over the world will soon be able to book vacation rooms and houses in Cuba through Airbnb, reports the AP, after the U.S. Treasury Department this weekend authorized the company to expand its operations there. Airbnb has been connecting tourists from the U.S. only to Cuban hosts for just shy of a year under a limited exception to the U.S. trade embargo.

The San Francisco-based Airbnb was the first major U.S. company to enter Cuba after the two countries began normalizing relations in December 2014. Since then, Cuba has become Airbnb’s fastest-growing market, with about 4,000 listings added over the last year.

That rapid expansion was made possible in part thanks to Cuba’s casas particulares, whose owners have welcomed visitors for inexpensive stays in family homes for two decades. As Nancy Scola reported for Next City last year, Fidel Castro created a regulatory framework for this network of houses in the late 1990s, “to allow citizens to tap the value in one of the few assets they might still have, their homes.” Airbnb is not the first company to try to capitalize on the system, but so far, it’s been the most successful.

Scola also noted that Airbnb could help the country scale up its tourism industry with little upfront investment, allowing the country and its residents to take in visitor dollars more quickly. In the past year, 13,000 guests stayed in Cuban Airbnbs; visitors to the island surged nearly 20 percent, according to the AP.

The Treasury authorization was announced on the morning of Obama’s arrival in Cuba for a historic three-day trip.

Like what you’re reading? Get a browser notification whenever we post a new story. You’re signed-up for browser notifications of new stories. No longer want to be notified? Unsubscribe.

Jen Kinney is a freelance writer and documentary photographer. Her work has also appeared in Philadelphia Magazine, High Country News online, and the Anchorage Press. She is currently a student of radio production at the Salt Institute of Documentary Studies. See her work at jakinney.com.

Follow Jen .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Tags: airbnbtourismcuba

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 1063 other sustainers such as:

  • F in El Cerrito, CA at $5/Month
  • Ann at $5/Month
  • Linda at $25/Year

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    20th Anniversary Solutions of the Year magazine

has donated ! Thank you 🎉