The President of the United States announced last Friday a change of policy regarding tourism to Cuba. American citizens will only be allowed to visit the island under certain conditions.
This new set of measures notably aims to limit earnings from tourism flowing into the State's coffers, and redirect them toward SMEs and the Cuban population. This policy could have dramatic consequences for the Cuban hospitality market.
Indeed, it could prevent U.S. tourists from booking their stay via professional hoteliers (apart from the case of organized tours, or for specific motives), but will nonetheless allow them to do so with sharing economy solutions, such as AirBnB, resulting in the visit being considered to be motivated by support support for the local community. Other categories which allow a trip to Cuba include visiting family, journalistic activities, religious or educational activities, or cruises.
Nevertheless, by forbidding leisure travelers to book in hotels while they can still access private rental platforms, the American President creates an unprecedented situation that should boost the development of the latter at the expense of 'traditional' hospitality.
Individual Americans can travel to #Cuba under Support for the Cuban people category but must use privately owned lodging like AirBnB 4/5— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) 16 juin 2017
It is worth noting that the Cuban touristic market had initiated a tremendous growth over the past years, notably due to the increase in visitors from the United States, which had risen dramatically between 2014 and 2015 (+77%). Cuban hotel development was also to speed up in the coming years, as the Ministry of Tourism forecast to build 110,000 rooms by 2030.
In June 2017, AirBnB revealed its key figures for Cuba: it registered 70,000 visits per month since the beginning of the year, with 22,000 properties listed on its website. Cuba is a booming market for AirBnB, hence it comes as no surprise that Barack Obama brought along Brian Chesky, the platform's founder, when he visited Cuba in early 2016.
The new policy announced by the U.S. President is not to come into effect immediately; nevertheless, it is prone to impact the local hospitality industry. And it creates a global precedent, forbidding the development of hotels but not of private rentals.
On a side note, Donald Trump has also a hotel brand that goes by his name: the Trump Hotels Collection, which in January 2017 operated 14 properties and 4,598 rooms worldwide.
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