Three travel companies that are eyeing up Cuba

Posted: 31-Mar-16 10:03

Barack Obama may have made the first presidential visit to Cuba in decades earlier this month, but the U.S. head of state is not the only trailblazer currently looking at the island. Indeed, with a huge influx in tourism expected as a result of the ever-relaxing travel restrictions, three big US travel companies have already announced their intentions to capitalize on the situation.

Three travel companies that are eyeing up Cuba

With the Cuban and American governments last month signing an agreement that would allow commercial flights to resume between the two nations later this year, major carriers like American Airlines, Delta and JetBlue have already began bidding for routes to take tourists to the island nation.

However, airlines aren’t the only tourism-related organizations hoping to benefit from an influx of visitors to the country, with three major players in the industry – Carnival Cruises, Starwood Hotels and Airbnb – all currently keeping very close tabs on the situation as they look to expand into Cuba. Here’s a closer look at how the new travel rules will impact on each company going forward in 2016.

Carnival Cruises

Just last week, Carnival Cruises became the first U.S. cruise ship operator in 50 years to receive permission from the Cuban government to sail to the island from the U.S. The company plans to begin offering trips on May 1, with their 704-passenger MV Adonia allowing tourists to interact with artists, business owners and families in three locations: Havana, Cienfuegos and Santiago de Cuba.

Starwood Hotels

With almost identical timing to Carnival, Starwood Hotels announced that it had signed three hotel deals in Cuba to become the first American-based hospitality company to operate there since the 1950s. Three existing hotels in Havana – Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Quinta Avenida and Hotel Santa Isabel – will now undergo renovation before re-opening as Starwood properties later in the year.

Airbnb

Having already entered the Cuban market last year, home sharing website Airbnb had previously been restricted to hosting just 13,000 U.S. visitors in 2015. Following President Obama’s visit to the country, however, the company received an exception from the government which – come April 2 – will allow Cuban hosts to accommodate any traveller, allowing the business to expand further.


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