Airbnb Goes to Cuba with Rentals for Just $200 a Week!

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Meet Israel, a new Airbnb host in the center of Havana. (Photo: Lisette Poole/Airbnb)

Having a unique travel experience in Cuba just got that much easier. 

Airbnb announced today that they are now operating in Cuba. Starting this week, hosts on the island will list more than 1,000 of their homes on the home sharing site.

Yahoo Travel checked out the current listings and there are a ton of beautiful options around Havana, all decorated with colorful walls and traditional looking furniture. At first glance, renters can score a room on the island starting at just $23 a night! We even found a one bedroom apartment in Havana that can be rented for just $200 a week.

Despite it’s proximity to the U.S. (only 90 miles from Florida), Cuba has been off limits to American tourists since the early 1960′s. That all changed in December when news came that the President was easing the 53-year-old embargo, which will now allow some trade and travel to the island.  

Related: A Windmill, a Prep School, and Other Weirdly Cool Airbnb Rentals

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Marta is a new Airbnb host near the Vedado neighborhood in Havana. (Photo: Airbnb)

After the embargo was partially lifted, bookings to Cuba have jumped, and some fear that chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks will come in and change the unique character of the island. Big hotel chains also plan to move in, but Airbnb hopes that their presence will also allow locals to benefit from the tourism boom.

“We’re uniquely positioned to help Cubans reap the rewards of economic growth while preserving their unique culture,” Airbnb wrote on their blog. “When Airbnb guests stay in local neighborhoods, they bring business to surrounding entrepreneurs—whether they be hosts, artists, or even ice cream shop owners.”

However, there were a few issues with bringing Airbnb to Cuba. Currently, only about four percent of houses have internet access, so the company had to hire local intermediaries to manage the listings. 

Related: U.S. Travel Industry Carefully Eyeing Cuba Tourism

Airbnb also requires money to be paid online, but many Cubans insisted on being paid in cash. This inspired Airbnb to hire a florida-based company call VaCuba, which specializes in sending cash to families in Cuba, to make payments on their behalf.

While there are sure to be growing pains, Cuba is not new to the idea of home sharing. “Casas Particulares” are private homestays for rent on the island, and have been a popular choice for many tourists and a source of income for locals.

Airbnb operates in 190 countries and 34,000 cities around the world.

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