Bahamians are feeling the economic benefit of vacation rentals company Airbnb, while helping the country’s tourism economy to increase the number of rooms available to the market, Director General of the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation Joy Jibrilu said yesterday.
According to Jibrilu, The Bahamas needs “every room that we can get” and Airbnb is helping to fill the demand.
She added that Airbnb has become another economic source for many Bahamians who can now contribute to the country’s tourism sector.
“I use the expression ‘not just looking from the outside in’, but being a participant, and receiving all the benefits that accrue as a result of that,” said Jibrilu.
“This provides one way that Bahamians can get into it. We have seen Bahamians involved with Airbnb very successfully. You have a large group of people who are saying ‘for the first time I am feeling an economic benefit.’”
According to Jibrilu, there has always been a desire for more Bahamians to become involved in the tourism sector and to benefit economically, and Airbnb has given them that chance.
Hotels were concerned about the competition from Airbnb, especially given that the vacation rentals sector was not taxed like hotels are.
However, Jibrilu said the memorandum of understanding signed between Airbnb and the Ministry of Tourism in 2018 regarding the taxing of the sector somewhat leveled the playing field.
“The tax has appeased many hoteliers,” she said.
Airbnb also began to offer its Airbnb Experiences platform in The Bahamas last year, which offers Bahamians even more of an opportunity to be engaged in the tourism sector. Airbnb’s Public Policy Associate for the Caribbean and Central America Chloe Burke explained yesterday that The Bahamas is one of the first countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to offer Airbnb Experiences.