BHTA president: Airbnb properties must ‘carry their load’ on taxation

The vacation home rental market, particularly Airbnb, needs to carry its load by way of taxation and promoting The Bahamas in the same ways the hotel industry does, Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) President Carlton Russell asserted yesterday.

“The hotels with their partners like the Nassau Paradise Island Promotion Board are aggressively going out there to increase airlift, and a great percentage of those seats are being eaten up by Airbnb; we need them to carry their load as well. I think particularly from a hotel standpoint and leveling the playing field we need to regulate that industry,” he told Guardian Business.

“It’s new, it’s going to take a lot of dialogue and a lot of discussions to try to come to some position there. But I do know that those talks are being had. Airbnb you would have heard has grown significantly, in some cases up more than 50 percent, but they are using our roads, they are using our airports, they are using our hospitals and it’s just fitting that they be taxed accordingly.”

According to real estate brokerage firm Engel and Volkers, Bahamas’ 2019 vacation rental report, which extracted information from vacation rental data website AirDNA (which compiles data from websites Airbnb and Homeaway), the total vacation rental units on New Providence are about 1,400; Eleuthera is at 800; Abaco is at just above 600; and Exuma and Grand Bahama are just above 400.

Other Family Islands report having less than 200 units.

Russell said since that segment of the industry is not going away, industry partners have started devising a plan on properly regulating the market.

“We know shared economies are here to stay. We need to get our heads around it from a regulation standpoint, and then again from a taxation standpoint,” he said.

“We’re beginning to have the discussions as it relates to taxation, and the tourism sector is leading that charge with the Ministry of Finance and they are making some inroads, which is great for the hotel industry, for the mere fact that it levels the playing field.”

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Paige McCartney

Paige joined The Nassau Guardian in 2010 as a television news reporter and anchor. She has covered countless political and social events that have impacted the lives of Bahamians and changed the trajectory of The Bahamas. Paige started working as a business reporter in August 2016. Education: Palm Beach Atlantic University in 2006 with a BA in Radio and Television News

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