Apartment rental platform, Airbnb has not been in the good graces of many cities in the U.S. lately. The company has faced opposition in major cities like New York, San Francisco, and Philadelphia for failing to tax its users as hoteliers and for supporting the proliferation of illegal hotels.
Despite these circumstances, today Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky is being named a presidential ambassador for global entrepreneurship by the White House Department of Commerce. The program, run by longtime philanthropist Penny Pritzker, is aimed at inspiring a generation of entrepreneurs around the world. As part of his participation in this group, Chesky will be focused on spreading the good word of Airbnb to Cuba, where it recently launched.
Often called the “Island of the Disconnected,” Cuba suffers from bad Internet infrastructure. Only about five percent of inhabitants connect to the Web. Even so, Airbnb has been able to accrue over 1,000 listings in Cuba.
It seems ironic that the White House would be supportive of a company that has been the object of fury for so many hotel unions and cities in the states. But, in truth, Cuba may be a more hospitable environment for the platform than the U.S.
Cubans were already renting out rooms and homes directly to travelers well before Airbnb’s launch. Additionally, the government, which recently implemented broad taxation on various sales and services, is likely to go easy on room-renters in order to help the marketplace grow.
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