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Airbnb Lands in Cuba The accommodations booking platform announces more than 1,000 listings in the island that, for more than 50 years, has been off limits to U.S. citizens.

By Catherine Clifford

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Airbnb

For wanderlust seekers, Cuba is the Wild West of destinations. For decades, U.S. citizens couldn't travel there, but that all changed this winter when President Obama eased travel bans and trade sanctions with our Caribbean neighbor to the South.

And where there's even a sliver of new opportunity, startups see possibility. Home-rentals site Airbnb is one of them, having just announced more than 1,000 listings in Cuba.

"For over 50 years, Cuba has been out of reach for most Americans. We couldn't be more excited that, starting today, licensed U.S. travelers will now be able to experience the unique culture and warm hospitality that makes the island so special through our new Cuban community," said Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of the San Francisco-based startup, in a statement.

Related: Airbnb Co-Founder: If Rejection Slows You Down, Entrepreneurship Isn't For You

The new travel rules issued in January still don't allow for Americans to visit Cuba for general tourism; they simply permit Americans to visit Cuba for any of these 12 reasons -- including visiting family members or pursuing professional research -- without having to apply for a license.

Airbnb says that Americans who book lodging on the site must be traveling to Cuba under one of the 12 licensed categories.

Related: Good News for Airbnb Hosts and Uber Drivers: Here Comes Insurance

As soon as the White House said it would be lifting the veil that has existed between the U.S. and Cuba, searches on Airbnb for Cuba jumped by 70 percent, the company says. Cuba is currently a more popular search term on the online booking platform than Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, or Mexico City -- cities that have traditionally been favorite travel destinations in Latin America.

Related: Sailo Wants to Be Your Airbnb for Yachting
Catherine Clifford

Frequently covers crowdfunding, the sharing economy and social entrepreneurship.

Catherine Clifford is a senior writer at Entrepreneur.com. Previously, she was the small business reporter at CNNMoney and an assistant in the New York bureau for CNN. Catherine attended Columbia University where she earned a bachelor's degree. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. Email her at CClifford@entrepreneur.com. You can follow her on Twitter at @CatClifford.

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