Americas News

Airbnb, Starwood, Marriott Receive Authorization to Operate in Cuba Ahead Obama Visit

Online lodging service Airbnb and hotel chains Starwood and Marriott were authorized to operate in Cuba ahead of the U.S. president's visit.

Online lodging service Airbnb and hotel chains Starwood and Marriott have received authorization to operate in Cuba prior to U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to the island nation Sunday.

Airbnb has been operating in Cuba since December 2014 when President Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro declared détente. The service was previously only able to serve U.S. travelers to the island. International travelers can begin staying in private homes with Airbnb on April 2.

Starwood announced a deal to run three hotels, becoming the first U.S.-based hotel company to operate in Cuba since Fidel Castro took control of the country’s hotels in 1959.

Marriott gained U.S. Treasury Department authorization to pursue a deal in Cuba. The company’s CEO Arne Sorenson is travelling to Cuba as a part of Obama’s delegation.

“While there is still work to do before any agreement is reached, we are actively pursuing relationships in the hospitality sector,” Marriott CEO Arne Sorensen said in a statement. “We have long been convinced that with the right frameworks in place, new economic opportunities, including dramatically expanded travel, abound in Cuba. These could deliver real benefits to the Cuban people and also have the effect of bringing both Americans and Cubans closer together.”

The company aims to enter the country’s hospitality sector, provide hospitality training for Cuban nationals, help generate new economic opportunities for businesses supplying the hospitality industry, and support opportunities for Cubans.

[Image: Canadaolympic989/Wikimedia Commons]

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