Starting this Thursday, foreign tourists will be able to rent private rooms in Cuba through the service Airbnb, which directly connects homeowners and travelers all over the world.
Airbnb’s site already offers more than 1,000 properties on the Island, mostly in Havana, although also in other localities such as Morón, Camagüey, Santa Clara and Cienfuegos.
More than half of the rooms are in the capital, especially in neighborhoods such as Vedado and the Malecon. The prices for a room in a private apartment in Havana start at 23 dollars a day and go as high as $370 for an entire apartment that sleeps nine.
Offerings in other cities are much more modest and the prices are below the average for Havana. In Pinar del Rio province, for example, it is possible to reserve a room in Viñales starting at $12 to a maximum of $52 for a more luxurious accommodation.
However, there are several users offering a large number of rooms in different parts of the country. An intermediary calling himself Michael, for example, publishes 232 lodging ads in Varadero, Pinar del Rio, Cienfuegos and Soroa, among other places.
Tourism, with revenues of some 2.5 billion dollars a year, is the third largest source of foreign exchange for Cuba, after the sale of medical services (Cuban doctors working abroad) and family remittances. As of the end of January the sector had grown by 16% this year compared to last, according to official data. In the first month of the year the Island received 371,160 foreign visitors, 51,097 more than last year.
After the White House eased the rules for travel to Cuba in January, the number of travelers from the United States is expected to increase significantly, although they are still not allowed to travel as tourists.