Airbnb Offers Accommodations in Cuba

Photo

A taxi on Malecon Avenue in Havana.Credit Jose Goitia for The New York Times

Airbnb, the San Francisco-based home and room rental company, has added rooms for rent in Cuba.

In its blog, Airbnb said it had enlisted over 1,000 home-stay options.

They range from a room in a restored colonial home near the Malecon in Havana to a two-bedroom home with a swimming pool in Santa Maria del Mar, with the current average nightly rental rate $42. About 40 percent of the stays are in Havana, with the rest in cities such as Matanzas, Cienfuegos and Santa Clara.

Airbnb is piggybacking off Cuba’s existing home-stay network known as casas particulares, in which Cuban homeowners offer rooms to rent, and centralizing the service.

“The biggest issue since the announcement [of easing travel restrictions by the U.S. government] has been hotel capacity,” said Greg Geronemus, co-chief executive of SmarTours, which leads people-to-people trips to Cuba. “Airbnb will help address a significant lack of capacity.”

A potential stumbling block to the Internet-based reservations system is spotty Internet access in Cuba. Airbnb acknowledged in a statement that some homeowners have limited Internet access and are working with partners to help manage bookings.

“There’s a lot of ingenuity and a lot of entrepreneurial energy in Cuba,” said Julia Sweig, author of the book “Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know.” She said many Cubans are already finding ways to get online despite reported Internet access rates of 5 to 20 percent.

The service is open only to those Americans traveling on the existing 12 government-sanctioned categories for travel to Cuba, including family visits, educational activities and humanitarian projects. Due to trade restrictions, Airbnb’s Cuba listings are open only to United States travelers.

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