Hotels in Cuba poised for American visitors

Cubans and Americans alike keen to get the most out of tourism business with the easing of US government restrictions.

by

    Since the easing of restrictions on businesses operating in Cuba last month, the home-sharing website Airbnb has become the country's site's fastest-growing market.

    As a California-based company, the popular service had earlier been forced to block access for American and European users alike.

    Now, Americans can book rooms by attesting that they qualify under one of the 12 categories allowed by the US administration.

    In the Pinar del Rio town of Vinales, on the country's western tip, almost every other house has been turned into a bed and breakfast.

    The region is a hotspot for tourists because of its natural beauty and tobacco plantations.

    "We hear that a lot of Americans want to come to our country, so we are expanding," Daniel Sanchez, a loca resident, told Al Jazeera.

    Daniel, like many throughout Cuba, now relies on Airbnb to connect them with potential American and European customers.

    "We want to receive them the best way possible," he said.

    Cubans like Sanchez, encouraged by the possibility of earning extra income, are hoping that the relaxation of travel restrictions will be more than a short-lived honeymoon.

    However, since the easing of restrictions on travel to Cuba is the prerogative of the US president, the next US leader may turn out to be not as keen on opening up to Cuba as Barack Obama.

    This uncertainty about the future has spawned a "do-or-die" attitude towards American tourists.

    "I can go to Paris and see the Eiffel Tower and, in 20 years, everything will be the same, but coming here in 20 years won't be the same," Aaron Levy, an American tourist, told Al Jazeera.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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