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Airbnb gets Treasury OK to expand Cuba listings

turista habana vieja usa todayThe Treasury Department’s approval, announced Sunday, comes as President Obama embarks on an historic three-day trip to the island nation. It also follows Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ announcement Saturday that it has signed three hotel deals in Cuba, making it the first U.S. hotel company to seal a deal to run hotels in Cuba since 1959 revolution.

Airbnb said it will expand its Cuba listings to international travelers starting on April 2. The lodging company has been linking Cuban home rentals to U.S. travelers for a year now.

Cuba has long had a policy of letting its residents rent out their homes as a way to make an extra buck through a process known as casas particulares. This system, which was instituted in the 1990s, allows travelers to the capital city of Havana to forgo the cost of a hotel and rent a room or two with a local family for as little as $30 to $35 a night.

Since joining the casas particulares process last year, Airbnb has paired 13,000 guests from all 50 U.S. states with rentals in Cuba, Airbnb co-founder Nathan Blecharczyk said.

Approximately 4,000 casas particulares owners have added their homes to Airbnb’s network, making Cuba the fastest-growing market in Airbnb history, the company said.

(Kaja Whitehouse, USA TODAY)

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