Airbnb is opening shop in Cuba, and has seen a 70% spike in is U.S. based searches for Cuban properties since tensions between the two countries officially thawed in January.
After 50 years as a no-go area for American travelers, the online travel property rental site now has 1, 000 locations across Cuba available for U.S. tourists. Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of the site, applauded the development, “For over 50 years, Cuba has been out of reach for most Americans, ” he told the Financial Times. “When we founded Airbnb, our dream was to help create a world where you belong anywhere.”
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One reason Airbnb has been able to move so quickly in the few months travel and trade restrictions have fallen away is its flexible business model. Unlike hotels, it doesn’t need to buy properties, build hotels and hire staff, but can get started with existing properties. There are still challenges for working with Cuba, as only 5% of Cubans have internet in their homes, but increased connectivity should drum up more business for Airbnb.