One night in an Airbnb in Cuba costs twice what many Cubans make per month
By Nidhi Prakash
Four months after Airbnb opened for business in Cuba, it's becoming
clear what kind of impact the uptick in American tourism may have on the
local economy. The Associated Press reports that between January and May
alone, there were 36 percent more American tourists visiting the country
compared to the same time the last year.
Cubans have been listing places to stay on the holiday rental site since
April, offering the new wave of American visitors everything from $1,180
penthouses to $10 shared rooms in hostels. The Economist points out that
there are listings that charge almost ten times the average Cubans'
monthly income of around $25. Even the average listing price, $45 per
night, is well above the average monthly income. So either above-average
earners are mostly capitalizing on Airbnb, or average Cubans on the site
are making a killing compared to their regular salaries.
Here's that penthouse, in the heart of Havana, with four bedrooms and a
roof top pool, for $1,180 per night:
RHPLZOF15 4BR Luxury Penthouse ST in Havana
Apartment in Havana, Cuba. Luxury Penthouse South Atlantic Standing over
the Malecon this is without doubt one of the finest penthouse
accommodations in Havana. The furniture, the colors, the ambiance, the
24 hours customized service; everything has been thoroughly analyze…
View all listings in Havana
And you'd get something like this for the Cuba-wide average price of $45
HAV-2.1 Deluxe Florez double room in La Habana
Bed & Breakfast in La Habana, Cuba. Very comfortable room with private
bathroom and air conditioning, TV, minibar, safe. They have a beautiful
garden and patio and all the conditions for a prefect stay. Even a pool!
House with a beautifully decorated colonial architecture, beautifu… View
all listings in La Habana
Or you could try a shared room in a hostel, for $10 per night:
Hostal Cubabackpackers in La Habana
Apartment in La Habana, Cuba. Cubabackpackers tiene una situación
inmejorable, muy cerca del Vedado, El Malecón, la Plaza de la Revolución
y el famoso Estadio Latinoamericano. Está situado en una edificio con
excelentes vista de la esta maravillosa ciudad. View all listings in La
There are around 2,000 listings on offer at the moment. As travel news
site Skift reported, even early on when there were just about 1,000 on
the site, about half of the listings were actually controlled by five or
This is partly because only a very small percentage–around five
percent–of Cubans have access to the internet. Obviously, renting out an
Airbnb relies heavily on the internet.
Aside from the access issue though, Skift reports that Cubans in Miami
or other places could also be renting out accommodation from a distance.
As CityLab tells us, Cuban casas particulares–local Bed and Breakfast
arrangements–have been around for years and fit especially well with the
"Because we're building on the rich Cuban tradition of home sharing,
we're uniquely positioned to help Cubans reap the rewards of economic
growth while preserving their unique culture," a post on Airbnb's
official blog says.
Locals with casas particulares might be getting around the internet
restrictions by going through overseas-based agencies that handle the
bookings through the website for them. One "host," Point 2 Cuba, appears
to be based in Canada. "AirBNB's host was Point to Cuba, but they then
represented Frank the local owner," one guest wrote in their site review
for the "host."
Travel restrictions between the U.S. and Cuba are set to ease up after
the U.S. government decided late last year to reestablish diplomatic
relations with the country for the first time since 1961. Though there
are still some restrictions on travel–Americans are required to be
traveling for purposes other than tourism–it seems unlikely that Cuban
officials and locals will want to discourage tourism dollars by checking
up on visitors, as NPR points out.
With airlines offering increasing options for direct flights between
U.S. cities and Havana, the number of American tourists in Cuba will
almost certainly rise. And there have been moves by the Cuban government
to expand internet access somewhat on the island, which could mean less
wealthy people having a better chance to take advantage of the tourist
flood gates opening.
Source: One night in an Airbnb in Cuba costs twice what many Cubans make
per month | Fusion -