Sixty years after Fidel Castro’s revolution overthrew the US’s influence in Cuba, Airbnb has penetrated Havana’s accommodation market, despite strong limitations imposed by the US government. This article analyzes the methods employed by Airbnb to enter the unique Cuban tourist sector, highlighting the adoption of local norms and traditions. For decades, thousands of casas particulares have hosted exchanges between visitors and the local population. Based on ethnographic data collected in Havana, we contend that the “Airbnb model” was present before the gig economy giant arrived in the Cuban capital. On one hand, the arrival of Airbnb may contribute to (re)emerging inequalities in Cuban society, while on the other hand, it has the potential to generate economic opportunities in the island’s bourgeoning private sector. Ultimately, we suggest that the Cuban model of casas particulares should be conceptual-ized as a trailblazer of the international tourist landscape.

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