Airbnb Expands To Cuba
Via Digital Trends:
Airbnb extends its tendrils to just about every country within reach, so it’s no surprise that Cuba finally made the list. Earlier this month, the home-rental liaison took advantage of loosened U.S. trade restrictions to begin offering its services in the Communist island nation. The listings number in the hundreds right now, but Airbnb has been sending representatives to Cuba during the past few months to encourage more real estate owners to lease their properties. Most are concentrated in Havana, Cienfuegos, Santa Clara, and other trendy destinations to cash in on Cuba’s tourism industry, which accounted for 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013. More than 2 million foreign travelers visit Cuba each year, and Airbnb expects that number to grow – the company saw a 70-percent spike in searches from U.S. users for listings in Cuba.Finding lodging with Airbnb will remain difficult as very few Cubans have home web access and most must use expensive government-run internet cafes.
RELATED: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Cuba today for the first-ever trade mission by a sitting governor since the thaw in US-Cuba relations.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein, and senior executives from New York-based companies including JetBlue, MasterCard, Pfizer and Chobani will accompany the governor. "As the door begins to open between the U.S. and Cuba, we want New York businesses to be first out of the gate when it comes to building trade partnerships and establishing a strong position in this new market," Cuomo said. Cuomo, who has taken some criticism for not speaking out against Cuba's anti-gay and human rights record, touched on the issue in a statement. "New York has proudly long been a leader on issues of equality and human rights and I agree with the President that engagement is the best way to promote democracy and bring about positive change, rather than continuing a failed policy of isolation."