Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis urged Family Island residents to capitalize on the tourism growth The Bahamas has experienced, particularly in the area of vacation home rentals.
The prime minister, who was speaking at a town hall meeting in Matthew Town, Inagua, on Wednesday, pointed to the homes that are currently being rented through web platforms like Airbnb and HomeAway.
“We have heard a lot about Airbnb rental facilities throughout our family of islands and what’s essentially happening is non-nationals, foreigners, non-Bahamians are building second homes within our country quite legitimately, quite legally, but the tourism product in the Family Islands is changing,” Minnis said.
“The Baha Mars and the Atlantises that we see today we won’t see tomorrow. The room inventory status is now changing, in that tourists are now renting homes and bed and breakfasts and it is essential that Bahamians become a part of this market, because if we don’t and we’re not given the opportunity to do so, within the next ten to twenty years we will lose our Family Islands, the tourism product within the Family Islands would not be Bahamian-owned.”
The latest data from vacation rental data website AirDNA shows sustained growth in the short-term rental market, with bookings for rooms in homes and entire homes on Exuma, New Providence, Abaco and Grand Bahamas increasing by more than 30 percent across the board, according to the central bank’s Monthly Economic and Financial Developments report for June.
Addressing residents on the island, Minnis said Inagua is not excluded from that growth.
“If we look at the economic growth and tourism growth in Inagua, if you look at the first six months of last year and compare it with the first six months of this year, tourism has grown by 667.4 percent. Just in this first six months alone, we have surpassed the entire of last year,” he said.
Minnis said it’s the government’s responsibility to ensure that Bahamians take advantage of what is being offered.
“With this economic growth and tourism growth it is essential that Bahamians are a part of this growth. We’ve made a commitment that we will make that happen,” he said.
“There are presently about 5,000 homes that are rented via Airbnb and that statistic increased by 25 percent last year and it is projected to increase by another 25 percent this year. So, if this increase continues and Bahamians are not a part of it, then you can imagine what will happen. That’s why I have promised that we would make land available for Bahamians, so that Bahamians will be able to build their boutique hotels, Bahamians will be able to build first and second homes, Bahamians will be able to get into business.”