Don’t trash them

Sealy comes to the defence of Airbnb

Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy has dismissed critics of Airbnb, insisting the short-term rental facilitator was contributing significantly to the tourism industry.

It emerged this week that a growing number of Barbadians were offering their homes to visitors as short-term lodging through Airbnb, with 1,100 Barbadian properties listed on its website.

Hoteliers have complained that the global online marketplace was undermining the traditional accommodation sector by affecting occupancy and eating into their income.

However, Sealy this week rubbished the idea, stressing that Airbnb contributed two per cent of the island’s record number of visitors last year, a performance he attributed to the efforts of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA).

“While we hear some people complaining about the Airbnb taking all of their business . . . the massive sum of 16,000 people used them in 2016, a year that saw 632,000 people coming to Barbados. So we are talking about two per cent of people using Airbnb.

“So I think we have to recognize we are dealing with people who would book their vacations using different mechanisms. So that in itself is a lesson for all of us and vindicates the Government’s decision to create the BTPA,” he told the launch of the Sugar and Rum season at Sunbury Plantation.

One day after General Manager of Sugar Bay Barbados Beach Resort Morgan Seale had cautioned that an out of control unregistered accommodation sector, including the increasingly lucrative Airbnb, would “water down” the Barbados tourism product, the homestay company’s public policy head in Latin America and the Caribbean Shawn Sullivan said on Tuesday, Airbnb could be financially rewarding for Barbadians with the typical host earning US$ 3,900 a year through its platform.

“What we are seeing is that more and more travellers do not want to stay necessarily in a hotel all of the time, they want to stay in local economies. They want to hang out in the Oistins Fish Fry or they want to stay in other parts of the island,” Sullivan told journalists this morning immediately after signing an agreement with the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to develop a set of policy principles and recommendations on the sharing economy for Caribbean governments and other stakeholders,” he had said.

4 Responses to Don’t trash them

  1. Brewster February 10, 2017 at 8:36 am

    Freedom of choice is a must for tourism. Stop building more hotels, which is damaging the environment. More green space is necessary. Concrete everywhere is an ugly sight. Give local property owners a chance to earn too, which would also give an incentive to upkeep properties and surrounding areas. It is the best way possible to interact with locals and get to know the place better. Airbnb can only be good competition at a time like this.

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  2. RoPow February 10, 2017 at 9:30 am

    Well said Brewster! Another section of this press speaks to magistrate Douglas Frederick directing the need for tolerance and diversity. The ‘formal’ hotel industry needs to recognize the emergence of, to them, an evolving disruption of the existing paradigm of how visitor accommodation is booked, and factor that into their investment guidelines when planning new space. Airbnb (Trip Advisor and others) present an opportunity for very ordinary people to win a piece of the tourist product pie, be involved in the distribution of national natural resource, and benefit from the financial dollar spread. Not saying that private rentals should escape taxes that the formal sector is obliged to collect. A level playing field in that respect will evolve, I am sure. The challenge is for the Revenue Authority to develop the capacity to create the framework to equitably extend the tax net. A challenge for the Civil Service?

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  3. Peter February 10, 2017 at 12:04 pm

    Listen to the next DEM leader designate. Brewster and RoPow. do some homework Aruba, St. Maarten, The Island of Cancoon and Cayman Island are all individually islands about one-fifth or less the size of Barbados. All of them except Cayman, Has over 12,000 hotel rooms Cayman has 8,000. Barbados has less than 4,000 rooms. Those Islands have very vibrant tourism year round. Cancoon was a little fishing village island occupied by 12 families. They now welcome six large ocean liners every two days. unbelievable casinos. ALL those Places deal with US $ dollars everywhere. US $ is used OTC – (over the counter) Mr. Minister, Court King Fisher the Largest airlines operator in India, 2nd largest in the world. to fly once a week charters out of China, India, Dubai, Qatar, and Scandanavia especially Stockholm Sweden, Oslo, Norway and Copenhagen in Denmark. All by-passing London Heathrow/Gatwick. We will have to build ten more Hyatts. Think outside of the box Sir Richard – in waiting. No one will ever come near you in tourism development in Barbados. They will have to sit quietly jealous.

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  4. sam clarke February 10, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    If people want to offer their homes as lodging and are making money as a business I see nothing wrong, provided that they pay the same vat and necessary taxes that the hotels and all businesses in Barbados are required to do.

    So, once they pay the necessary taxes, and have the necessary insurances polices, go head. BUT UNTIL THIS IS ESTABLISHED, IT IS NO. This also places additional housing problems for local residents, with additional homelessness.

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