Written by Yello

Airbnb in Jamaica


Airbnb rocked the travel industry nine years ago by helping people to rent out their property to visitors. The website persuaded strangers to sleep in one another’s homes and became a $25 billion company.

According to Airbnb executive with responsibility for public policy in Latin America and the Caribbean, Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb is rapidly growing in Jamaica and is extremely lucrative. According to officials, there are 2,300 active hosts and 4,000 listings in Jamaica for the past year. “Generally in the Caribbean, people will rent their entire homes. Here in Jamaica, we are seeing a mixture of private homes versus a private space in someone’s home. We were responsible for bringing in roughly 32,000 tourists within the past year and we believe that this collaboration will allow this to grow exponentially,” explained Sullivan.

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Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett says Jamaica has to face the fact that online marketing and share economy websites like Airbnb are here to stay. A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed in December 2016 between the Jamaican government and Airbnb to establish a framework to further diversify Jamaica’s tourism product.

“I believe great things will come from this partnership as we cooperate in areas of common interest, including marketing Jamaica as a tourist destination; promoting sporting events as well as our festivals and other cultural events; and fostering responsible home sharing,” the tourism minister said in an interview with the Jamaica Observer.

At the time of this correspondence, the Jamaican government is making preparations to collect taxes from persons who use the platform to rent residential spaces. Under Jamaica’s taxation laws, any income gained from use or occupation of buildings and land is taxable. Bartlett says that the proposed taxes can be built into the rental prices.

The Ministry of Tourism will also be partnering with Airbnb to ensure that the properties listed are of good quality.

Airbnb’s competitive edge is a lower price point than hotels and targeting travellers who want a local experience. These travellers prefer to live in local communities, shop and cook their own food and truly experience living like a local. Bartlett also noted Airbnb is surpassing some major hotel chains in market valuation and the number of beds offered.



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