Airbnb stays in Cuba are free this week

  • TECH
  • Saturday, 25 Jul 2015

Freebie: Airbnb is offering free stays for Americans in Cuba this week. Photo: AFP Relaxnews

To mark the reopening of the Cuban Embassy in Washington DC this week, Airbnb is footing the bill for US travellers. 

Just three months after launching listings for Cuba, the short-term vacation rental site has created a network of about 2,000 listings. 

And for travellers who booked prior to July 20 for travel between July 19 to 26, Airbnb says they’ll cover the costs by issuing reimbursements. 

“To our guests who booked trips to #Cuba this week, good news: We're celebrating the embassy re-opening and your stay is on us!” the company tweeted. 

As part of the diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries, earlier this week the Cuban embassy raised the national flag and opened its doors in Washington DC for the first time in 54 years. 

Not long after President Barack Obama made his first overture to the Cuban government in December, the travel industry has been scrambling to take advantage of the opening of a new market and rising consumer interest, including Airbnb. 

In April, the company developed a network of 1,000 listings, made up largely of “casas particulares,” private lodgings run by local micro-entrepreneurs. 

About 40% of listings in Cuba at the time were centred in Havana. The balance of accommodations were located in Matanzas, Cienfuegos, and Santa Clara. 

Most recently, Carnival Corporation announced plans to launch “fathom” and “social impact” cruises to the island from Miami beginning next spring. 

Under the program, about 37,000 travellers a year will either volunteer or be immersed in educational and cultural exchanges in local Cuban communities. 

Meanwhile earlier this month US carrier JetBlue became the first major commercial airline to fly from New York to Havana, when it shuttled American passengers from John F. Kennedy Airport to the Cuban capital. – AFP Relaxnews

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