Americans have a sort of reverse psychology with Cuba. Because we haven’t been able to go there, we badly want to. And now that we can, the only question is “where should I stay?”
Browsing through, you’ll immediately notice that it looks like there are only five or six renters responsible for the units. According to Airbnb’s press release, “While some Airbnb hosts in Cuba do have some form of limited Internet access, others are working with hosting partners that have Internet access and can help them manage their Airbnb requests and bookings.”
I chatted with one of these hosting partners, a woman named Fatima. I asked her what it was like being able to invite visitors to Cuba.
“It is really a change for us to be able to welcome you to our country. We are happy to see all these developments …
Internet-connection in Cuba is still difficult, but we will try to manage. In the future all this will change same day…
[We received] our first reservation this morning. So it already feels promising.”
Indeed, demand is high. Airbnb says it expects American interest to continue. After President Obama announced the lifted travel restrictions, the site saw a “70 percent spike in searches from U.S. users for listings in Cuba.” The only catch?
“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.”
Despite the hurdles, we’re getting there: Cuba’s tourist arrivals this quarter were record-breaking. And now you’ll have a place to stay. Of course, Airbnb isn’t the first home-away-from-home business to offer you a shelter. Couchsurfing has long been an option in the country.
But for now, those of us who can’t navigate the red tape and book a flight to Havana have this simple pleasure: clicking through the formerly unknown bedrooms of this mysterious country and adding them to our “someday” wish list.
Photo via Gregory “Slobirdr” Smith/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)