Airbnb has just released some statistics for its Cuban venture, and the numbers might make Raul Castro knock over his mojito. In just over two years, Cubans have earned nearly $40 million by hosting tourists in their homes. ¿Viva capitalism?
According to Airbnb, there have been over 560,000 “guest arrivals” (guessing that means bookings, not individuals) since they started up in Cuba in 2015, helping Cubans cash in as American travel restrictions were finally eased. Airbnb is not only a cheaper alternative to some of the hotels in the country, but it’s also an easy way for Americans traveling on so-called person-to-person visas, which require interaction with Cuban people, to learn about the country firsthand as they share the homes and sometimes dinner tables of locals.
Travelers have been paying an average of $164 to their Cuban hosts, which translates to $2,700 average annual Airbnb income for Cubans who open their homes to travelers. The economic boost is particularly helpful for women, as 58% of Airbnb hosts are female. While renting out rooms to tourists has a long tradition in Cuba (so-called casa particulars are quite common), the success of Airbnb is particularly impressive considering internet access is hard to come by, expensive, and slow in Cuba. Hopefully the numbers don’t make Castro and the Cuban government rethink the partnership.