Mon | Nov 19, 2018

600 more join Airbnb platform

Published:Sunday | November 4, 2018 | 12:00 AMAvia Collinder
Delano Seiveright, senior strategist, Ministry of Tourism.

The Airbnb community in Jamaica featured 3,700 active hosts on the company's platform, according to Leila Suwwan of the Airbnb Latin America unit.

That's 600 more than the numbers in December when the platform registered 3,100 active hosts and 5,900 active listings.

The Jamaican government has been trying to keep pace with the explosion of investment in Airbnb accommodation, including policy tweaks, that adjusts to the growth of the community-based, bed-and-breakfast type of hospitality service.

" ... It has become prudent for the ministry and its agencies to not only seek to develop this emerging market but move swiftly to formally implement a system to maintain the high standards of service, integrity and competitive advantage for which the Jamaican tourism product is known through the provision of a 'Destination Assurance' initiative," said Senior Communications Strategist in the Ministry of Tourism Delano Seiveright.

"Airbnb is offering an ideal opportunity to spread tourism's benefits beyond the traditional resort areas and into local communities across the length and breadth of Jamaica. Airbnb is taking tourism off the beaten track," he said.

Suwwan did not disclose the number of Airbnb listings, but said that up to the 12 month ending July 1, Jamaican hosts made total income of US$12.1 million ($1.535 billion) by sharing their homes on the platform.

Of the 3,700 hosts, 60 per cent are female and 40 per cent male.

Suwann told the Financial Gleaner that the hosts scored an average 4.6 stars of a maximum of five stars in the rating from their guests; and that 70 per cent of Jamaican hosts were rated as '5 stars'.

"This shows Airbnb hosts are displaying high quality hospitality and creating great feedback and word-of-mouth promotion of Jamaica," said the Airbnb official. "Guests score an average 4.8 star from their hosts, showing that they are respectful travellers and are having highly enjoyable experiences in the destination," she said.

Visitors are coming mostly from New York, Florida and England.

In the capital city of Kingston where there are 1,100 active hosts, a typical host US$2,000 annually; In Negril, which has 280 active hosts, annual income is around US$3,300; and for Montego Bay's 620 active hosts, annual earnings are around US$3,500.

"We know this is important income to local families, and helps them participate directly in the benefits of the tourism industry, bringing revenue to neighbourhoods and communities," said Suwann. "Airbnb is extremely proud of its thriving community of hosts and is committed to a long-term relationship with the Jamaican Government and the promotion of healthy, sustainable tourism that is inclusive and authentic."

The additional business up to midyear, builds on the 49 per cent growth in hosts on the travel platform, and the 65 per cent improvement in guest arrivals during 2017. That year, earnings for hosts topped $1 billion.

"This represents inclusive and sustainable tourism at its best. While more and more locals are opening their homes to visitors and earning money as a result, Jamaica is also profiting greatly from what has become a very lucrative value-added market," said Seiveright.

"Restaurants, stores and attractions as well as providers of craft, transportation and entertainment all stand to benefits from Airbnb. It is providing real economic benefits to regular people and we can see the sharing economy in action."

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com