Airbnb Impact Could Cost Government Of Cuba US$56 Million In 2016

PBS Newshour

17 December 2016

Arlington, Virginia

AMY GUTTMAN: Though the Cuban government has announced plans to double the island’s hotel capacity by 2020, the current shortage of rooms is a boon for another American-run company, Airbnb. The online platform for homestay bookings has listings in more than a hundred countries. But it says Cuba has become its fastest growing market, as measured by listings.

BRIAN CHESKY: “We estimate now that 20-percent of all Americans that are staying in Cuba are staying in a home with a Cuba host.”

In October 2016, San Francisco, California-based Airbnb, Inc., reported 10,000+ residences in its Republic of Cuba-based portfolio.

There approximately 19,000 private residences registered with and licensed by the government of the Republic of Cuba to provide accommodations for paying guests.

The government of the Republic of Cuba is likely to increase scrutiny upon residences because the construction and renovation of hotels does not equate with the increase in number of visitors to the country- and residences are increasing their share of visitor revenues.

Visitors using residences may also avoid dining at Republic of Cuba government-operated restaurants and taking Republic of Cuba government-operated tours; opting to dine at the residence or at a privately-operated restaurant (paladare) or take a tour with an individual using their vehicle or create a self-guided tour.

Without the 10,000 residences in the Airbnb portfolio and the 19,000 total registered residences, some visitors would not visit or delay their visit to the Republic of Cuba due to budgetary constraints.

For 2016, the government of the Republic of Cuba has projected that 300,000+ (could be 370,000) individuals subject to United States law and 200,000+ individuals of Cuban descent will visit the country.

If 20% of most of these visitors (some individuals of Cuban descent will stay with relatives) used residences charging US$20.00 to US$80.00 per night rather than hotels within which the government of the Republic of Cuba has an interest charging US$120.00 to US$300.00 per night, the loss in revenues to government of the Republic of Cuba could more than US$56 million.

There is, however substantial public relations value to the government of the Republic of Cuba from permitting Republic of Cuba nationals to earn income from the hospitality sector. 

And, employment opportunities are increasing for those engaged in the renovation of residences and creation of paladares and restoration of vehicles which does lessen pressure upon Republic of Cuba government-operated enterprises.

And where is a primary source of funding for renovating the residences, creating the paladares, and restoring the vehicles? The United States.