What Airbnb Will Mean for Cuban Entrepreneurs and American Travelers

Friday, 3 April 2015
Huffington Post

Op-ed by NFTC Vice President for Global Trade Issues Jake Colvin

Excerpt: ... Hospitality industry disruptor Airbnb announced that it would open its platform to Cubans looking to host licensed American travelers, joining the likes of Netflix and the Google Play store in opening its services to the island nation. This is encouraging news for entrepreneurs in Cuba, who have been letting out portions of private residences, or Casa Particulares as they are known, since the late 1990s. These Casa Particulares were one of the very limited private sector activities authorized under Fidel Castro. So Airbnb - which isn't the only online portal to list Casa Particulares in Cuba - is not creating a new business model there so much as elevating the profile of those that already exist to generations of American travelers eager to see the island. It is also good news for Americans who want to visit the island to engage in purposeful travel (tourism is currently still prohibited by an act of Congress). Trip organizers report that demand for accommodations has skyrocketed, and hotels are having trouble meeting requests for rooms spurred by the changes in U.S. policy announced by President Obama in December. Airbnb's services will help grow inventory -- the company now lists over 1,000 available accommodations across the island -- and connect Americans to available rooms.

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