SAN FRANCISCO, April 2, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Airbnb, the world's leading community-driven hospitality company, today announced that it will become one of the first U.S. companies to offer accommodations for licensed U.S. travelers since President Obama eased travel restrictions to Cuba in January. Starting today, travelers can choose from over 1,000 listings throughout the island.
"When we founded Airbnb in 2008, our dream was to help create a world where you could belong anywhere, and that vision has taken root in almost every country in the world," said Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk. "For over 50 years, Cuba has been out of reach for most Americans. 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 is renowned for its large network of casas particulares, traditional private home-stays run by local micro-entrepreneurs that have been a popular choice for visitors for many years. Over 1,000 casas particulares owners have added their homes to Airbnb's global community. While some hosts have limited internet access, others are working with hosting partners to help them manage their online requests and bookings.
Today, around 40 percent of Airbnb's listings in Cuba are available in Havana with the remaining 60 percent in cities including Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Santa Clara. Airbnb is eager to expand its presence to other areas of the island in the coming months.
Cuban hosts will receive the protection and benefits that the Airbnb platform offers. They will be eligible for Airbnb's Host Guarantee program, which reimburses up to $1 million USD for property damage. Airbnb will also expand its photography program to Cuba, currently through a beta program that utilizes the work of local photographers in Cuba's independent entrepreneur community, to capture images of hosts' unique spaces.
Airbnb expects significant demand for Cuban accommodations from the U.S. After President Obama's policy changes were announced in December, Airbnb saw a 70 percent spike in searches from U.S. users for listings in Cuba. In 2015, Cuba has already become one of the company's most searched for destinations in Latin America, with more Americans searching for it than Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, or Mexico City.
Americans booking travel on Airbnb will be required to attest that they are traveling to Cuba under one of the twelve license categories permitted by the U.S. Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control. To comply with current U.S. regulations, the Airbnb platform in Cuba is currently only open to licensed U.S travelers, but the company plans to seek authorization to support non-U.S. travelers in the future.
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world – online or from a mobile phone. Whether an apartment for a night, a castle for a week, or a villa for a month, Airbnb connects people to unique travel experiences, at any price point, in more than 34,000 cities and over 190 countries. And with world-class customer service and a growing community of users, Airbnb is the easiest way for people to monetize their extra space and showcase it to an audience of millions.