President Barack Obama has wrapped up his historic visit to Cuba, and U.S. businesses are considering new opportunities as relations between the two countries continue to improve.
On Monday, the president said he was “confident” that the U.S. embargo on Cuba would end, a move that would go a long way to normalizing ties between the two nations. A group of U.S. business executives traveled with the president to the island nation, underscoring the interest in building economic ties with the island nation.
Here are 13 companies that are already in Cuba doing business or paving the way for future operations.
1. Airbnb: The San Francisco-based company that matches travelers with home rentals began offering Cuban accommodations to authorized U.S. visitors almost a year ago after the president eased travel restrictions at the beginning of 2015. On Sunday, the company said it will be able to provide accommodations in Cuba to travelers from around the world starting April 2 after receiving special authorizations from the U.S. Treasury. Airbnb has accommodations in nearly 40 cities and towns in Cuba.
2. AT&T: AT&T is in discussions with Cuba’s state telecom monopoly, Etesca, to make a deal, according to a Reuters report. The company declined to comment on the report.
3. Google: President Obama said that Google has a deal to set up Wi-Fi access and broadband access in Cuba. Only 5 percent of the residents of the island nation have access to the internet.
4. Marriott International: The hotel operator said Sunday that the U.S. government has approved its application to pursue business deals in Cuba. The company didn’t announce any deals, but said it’s discussing opportunities with potential partners in the island nation.
5. Paypal: The company’s CEO traveled to Havana as one of the business leaders asked to join President Obama on his historic trip. Chief Executive Dan Shulman said PayPal’s “natural first step” would be to bring its global money transfer service, Xoom, to the country, given the recent loosening of commercial and financial regulations between the two countries. He further noted that $2 billion is sent from the U.S. to Cuba each year.
6. Priceline: Priceline struck a deal with Cuba on Monday to offer hotel rooms on the island to U.S. travelers through its subsidiary Booking.com. Priceline is the first U.S. online travel agency to make such a deal and the report said Booking.com will begin taking hotel reservations in Cuba in several weeks. Reuters said that Priceline began working on the deal shortly after President Obama said the U.S. would restore diplomatic relations with Cuba in December 2014.
7. Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide: Starwood on Saturday inked three hotel deals in Cuba, marking the first U.S. hospitality company to enter the country’s market in almost 60 years. The Hotel Inglaterra in Havana will join the company’s luxury collection while the Hotel Quinta Avenida will become a Four Points by Sheraton. Starwood also plans to include Hotel Santa Isabel into its luxury collection.
8. Stripe: On Friday, the company announced that its Stripe Atlas product for budding businesses will be available to entrepreneurs in Cuba. Stripe Atlas allows a start-up internet business to incorporate in the U.S., open a U.S. bank account with a tax ID number, set up a Stripe account to accept payments from anywhere and access informational guidance and web tools.
9-12. United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest, and JetBlue: These four, among other airlines, are urging the Department of Transportation to award them a share of 20 daily round-trip flights to Cuba. The agency is expected to award the routes this summer.
13. Western Union: On Monday, the global payments services company said it will offer remittance services from across the world into Cuba. The initiative comes after U.S. regulatory and policy changes have allowed Cubans and non-Cubans to send remittances to the island nation.
Janna Herron, The Week
March 23, 2016