There’s a bizarre loophole you have to jump through when booking an
Airbnb in Cuba
Business Insider UK
If you’re planning to visit Cuba in the near future and you want to use
Airbnb, you’ll quickly realise there’s a bizarre loophole you have to
jump through in order to make your booking.
When requesting to book an Airbnb in Cuba, you must specify your
“purpose of travel” and confirm that you “satisfy criteria for a general
license for travel to Cuba”.
This “license” was established for Americans travelling to Cuba but
non-US citizens also have to say that they satisfy the requirements if
they want to use Airbnb in Cuba. You’ll be presented with a drop down
menu of 12 “activities” that your license can fall under, with
activities including “Official Government Business”, “Support for the
Cuban people”, and “Religious”.
I experienced this first hand earlier this year when I was trying to
book some Airbnbs in Cuba for a trip that I just returned from. The
experience left me feeling confused and unsure about whether I could
legally use Airbnb in Cuba.
A PR spokesperson failed to clear up the matter for me in February so I
asked Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s cofounder, during a Q&A session in
Berlin last month.
It’s “a little complicated,” Blecharczyk replied. “A little over two
years ago, Obama took executive action to loosen the restrictions. But
he didn’t have the power to completely kill them. So he basically
loosened them as much as possible.
Factory”So what can you do do today? Americans can go down there and
about a year ago now we got special permission from the Department of
Treasury that regulates this stuff, to allow foreigners to come down to
Cuba as well. Now legally we’re still required to ask that question.
“According to the restrictions, you’re supposed to only go down there if
it’s for one of 12 reasons,” he said. “Of which one is ‘helping the
people’. If you’re staying at someone’s home, that’s helping the people.”
The US Treasury states that “support for the Cuban people” includes
“activities of recognised human rights organisations; independent
organisations designed to promote a rapid, peaceful transition to
democracy; and individuals and non-governmental organisations that
promote independent activity intended to strengthen civil society in Cuba.”
Blecharczyk added: “Cuba has been ridiculously successful for us. We
have about 15,000 homes down there. We’ve seen great interest from
Americans and from folks all around the world and it is doing remarkable
things for the people.”
Cuba’s relationship with US companies has been a complicated one ever
since revolutionary leader Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 but US
tech companies like Airbnb and Google are starting to make some inroads.
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