Cuba opens its doors to Airbnb

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Media captionAirbnb co-founder: Cuba will 'quickly join' list of top destinations for American tourists

So you're an American tourist and now that the US is working to normalise diplomatic relationships with Cuba, you've developed a yearning to see Havana before McDonald's gets there. The only problem is that there's nowhere to stay. There just aren't enough hotel rooms to accommodate the millions of intrepid US travellers planning a long weekend of mojitos and salsa. Well, don't panic: help is on the way, in the form of Airbnb.

The online rental sensation today announced plans to link American travellers with Cuban home owners. It's being described as the most significant development so far in terms of post-embargo US investment in the island. Netflix and Mastercard have already unblocked their services there, but because of limited and slow internet access and the fact that most credit-card issuers still don't allow transactions from Cuba, those moves are largely symbolic.

Airbnb, on the other hand, could mean real money for Cuban households.

The company's co-founder, Nathan Blecharczyk told me he hasn't actually been to Cuba yet but is excited by the new deal. Not surprising, since the company saw a 70% spike in US searches for Cuba rentals after President Obama announced the unfreezing of relations. Mr Blecharczyk also said that Cuba already has a surprisingly well-developed tradition of home stays and people renting out rooms, which compensated for some of the technical hurdles in doing business there.

Who knew? Cubans, it turns out, are natural Airbnbers.