Daily Management Review

Cuba rides a wave of popularity


07/06/2016


Cuban direction became the fastest growing segment of the online booking service Airbnb in its history. A few months after the beginning of removal of the US sanctions against Cuba, demand for private accommodation in the Cuban cities is growing exponentially, while the traditional tourist industry has agreed to open just few hotels on the island.



According to The Washington Post, the Cuban line was the fastest growing segment to Airbnb for the entire eight-year history of the service. Last April, Airbnb announced that it had about 1,000 proposals for accommodation in Cuba. Now, however, there are about more than 4,000 variants. Lifting the US embargo from Cuba, active economic development of sharing economy and popularity of self-booking in developed countries led to the fact that the traditional tourist industry lags behind when it comes to opening a new market. "Usually everything goes differently - first come hotel companies, and only then  - Airbnb», - said Sean Hennessey, Head of New York-based research firm Lodging Advisors.

Experts note that online services for booking in the private sector are not subject to the same strict regulation as conventional travel agencies and hotel operators are. Therefore, they have more freedom of action. Airbnb started offering accommodation in Cuba just four months after the US lifted ban on US tourist industry on the island. The traditional players, in turn, spent significantly more time to join the new market. Only in March this year, Starwood hotel operator announced signing an agreement under which it receives three Cuban hotels under its management. In the end of June, the company finally took up management of the first hotel, thus making it the first US hotel in Cuba for the last 60 years. Starwood representatives also pointed out that the Cuban direction is  enjoying incredible demand. "To be honest, rooms in Havana are almost always sold out - every month, every week and every day" - Jorge Giannattasio, Chief of Latin America Operations at Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, quoted by The Washington Post.

Such a popularity of private placements in Cuba is obliged to the fact that the Cuban hotel room capacity is small, often characterized by a high degree of wear, yet is quite costly. According to Cuban government statistics, 3.5 million people have visited Cuba in the past year, while the hotel pool on the island has only 62.9 ths. rooms. Last week, New York hosted a conference of representatives of the hospitality and tourism industry. The market participants, among other things, were trying to find ways to meet the demand for Cuba as quickly as possible. AccorHotels Director for North and Central America Christophe Alaux said: "If two million Americans want to visit Cuba tomorrow, the island hotel industry simply won’t cope with this."

source: washingtonpost.com






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