Online lodging service Airbnb opens Cuba bookings

Online lodging service Airbnb opens Cuba bookings

Online lodging service Airbnb is allowing travellers from around the world to book stays in private homes in Cuba after the San Francisco-based company received a special authorisation from the Obama administration.

Airbnb was the first major American company to enter Cuba after Presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro declared detente on December 17, 2014. The service handles online listing, booking and payments for people looking to stay in private homes instead of hotels. Cuba has become its fastest-growing market, with about 4,000 homes added over the past year.

Airbnb had only been allowed to let US travellers use its services in Cuba under a relatively limited Obama administration exception to the half-century old US trade embargo on the island. The expansion of that licenCe gives Airbnb the ability to become a one-stop shop for travellers seeking lodging in private homes, which have seen a flood of demand from travellers seeking an alternative to state-run hotels.

Airbnb’s new authorisation was announced on the morning of an historic three-day trip by Obama to Cuba and a day after Starwood Hotels announced that it had signed a deal to run three Cuban hotels, becoming the first US hotel company in Cuba since Fidel Castro took power in 1959 and took over the island’s hotels. Airbnb said world travellers could begin booking in Cuba in April 2, the anniversary of the country’s start of operations on the island.

All hotels in Cuba are now owned by government agencies and many are known for poor service and decrepit infrastructure. Foreign hotel chains operate some of the island’s larger and more luxurious hotels, which are running at full capacity thanks to a post-detente boom in tourism that has seen visitor numbers surge nearly 20 per cent i8n 2015.

One of the first openings in Cuba’s centrally planned economy came when the government allowed families to rent rooms in their homes for a few dollars a night, starting in the 1990s. That has become a full-blown private hospitality industry, with many Cubans using capital from relatives abroad and even foreign investors to transform crumbling homes into the equivalents of small boutique hotels.

Many websites allow foreigners to book Cuban private homes, known as “casas particulares,” but none has emerged as a dominant player. Many travellers still find it hard to guarantee bookings and make electronic or credit card payments. Airbnb is promoting its service as a solution to those problems in Cuba.

Latest News

  • Aviation
  • Breaking News

REX becomes third airline to add Melbourne to Perth route

Budget airline Rex has unveiled a new Melbourne – Perth route, becoming the third airline to do so. Passengers will be able to fly the route five days a week from as little as $299 for an economy ticket. Rex is adding the schedule from its route as of today. Rex general manager for network […]

  • Health & Wellness

Sydney is named the world’s top running destination

In the last week, searches for ‘running shorts’ have increased by 82 per cent! Fitness holidays are in high demand with over 200K searches (Google, TikTok and Instagram) but of all the fitness travel trends ‘trail running’ is the peak of popularity with searches up 50 per cent since the start of 2024! So which […]

  • Aviation

Hawaiian Airlines celebrates 20 years of flying to Australia

Hawaiian Airlines marked 20 years of flying to Australia at an appropriately themed cocktail party for 150 guests at Hyde Bar, Pullman Quay Grand Circular Quay, featuring hula dancers, Hawaiian musicians, mai tais, mango martinis and leis. Among the guests were Sydney Airport Station Manager Kathy Mainerd who was also present for the very first […]

  • Aviation

How well did Singapore Airlines handle the aftermath of turbulence terror

It was a routine flight for the passengers and crew of SQ321, taking off from London en route to Singapore. But about 10 hours into the flight, with breakfast service underway, horror-struck, the plane entered an air pocket and dropped a suspected 6000 ft in just three minutes, killing one man and injuring several others. […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Hari Nair On How Expedia Is Tackling Hotel Industry Challenges Head On

Like its counterparts globally, the Australian hotel industry faces many challenges, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rising operating costs, increased competition for talent, and changing traveller expectations have forced hotels to adapt quickly to remain competitive. At the recent EXPLORE conference in Las Vegas, Hari Nair, Global SVP & GM of Lodging […]

  • Attractions
  • Tourism

“I wanna try it!” – Internet goes WILD over the world’s largest plastic slide

If you are of a certain millennial age persuasion you may remember rainbow road on Nintendo’s Mario Kart. Evidently created by someone fresh from an acid trip, rainbow road allowed you to drive your kart merrily over a twisting, luminous, multi-coloured road suspended in space, all whilst listening to mildly aggressive techno music. If your […]

  • Aviation

Board Air Canada in Sydney’s CBD via a sleek Light Rail

Visitors flocking to Vivid Sydney will glide through the CBD in the newest addition to the Air Canada fleet – a sleek Light Rail tram wrapped in the airline’s unique livery. The Air Canada-themed tram is part of a new marketing campaign designed to put Air Canada in lights during the Vivid Sydney festival (25 […]

  • Destinations

Australia’s value to the UK visitor economy now the highest on record

A record number of Australians are visiting Britain and spending more than ever before, according to the latest official statistics highlighted by Britain’s National Tourist Agency, VisitBritain. In 2023, Australia’s value to the visitor economy was the highest on record. Visitors from Australia spent a record-breaking £1.6 billion ($3.07 million) on their trips to the […]

  • Tourism

Sensory Tourism Australia launches new travel experiences for vision-impaired international visitors

Sensory Tourism Australia launched its brand at the Australian Tourism Exchange in Melbourne this week and is set to provide inclusive and accessible products for vision-impaired international visitors. Sensory tourism is an emerging concept that presents destinations differently, with less emphasis on traditional sightseeing – created by the founders of Cocky Guides, an award-winning group […]

  • Destinations

Dubai tourism numbers soar despite Middle East conflict, top boss tells Travel Weekly

An exclusive Q&A with Shahab Shayan, Dubai Tourism Regional Director for Asia-Pacific addressing all the questions you might have. The Middle East is opening its doors to tourism. Qatar airport has been crowned No.1 airport globally and Saudi Arabia seems to be attracting a buzz. Where does Dubai fit into this equation? We are excited […]

  • Cruise
  • News

Carnival Splendor to the rescue of Aussies and Kiwis left stranded in Vanuatu

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Splendor has come to the aid of a group left stranded in Vanuatu, following the collapse of Air Vanuatu. The group, eight Australians and one New Zealander, were visiting the island of Santo when Air Vanuatu cancelled all flights, leaving them without a way home. Carnival Cruise Line responded by offering […]

  • Hotels

QT Singapore set to open in heritage Eastern Extension Telegraph building

Bookings open today for QT Singapore, in the historic former Eastern Extension Telegraph building along Robinson Road, the first property from QT Hotels & Resorts to open outside Australian and New Zealand. Previously Accor’s So Singapore, then the Hotel Telegraph, QT Singapore will officially launch on September 16 and will feature 134 rooms, ranging in […]

  • Hotels
  • News

Minor Hotels’ Anantara group reimagines the brand as its portfolio surpasses 50 properties

Anantara Hotels & Resorts is marking a significant milestone with a reimagined brand identity as recent openings across Europe, Middle East and Asia have propelled the brand portfolio beyond 50 properties. Part of the Minor Hotels group, the Anantara visual refresh takes an elegant, pared-back approach that enables each hotel’s unique character to shine – […]