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Airbnb: Ja's tourism game changer - Tourism minister says deal with popular platform could bring big benefits

Published:Sunday | August 27, 2017 | 12:00 AMJanet Silvera


Not only has Jamaica secured the popular tourism platform Airbnb as its first platinum sponsor of the landmark UNWTO-Sustainable Tourism Development Conference, but a partnership has been concretised, ensuring financial and other support of Jamaica's tourism product going forward.

Airbnb will pump $8.3 million into the November 2017 event, giving huge financial support for the development of the institutional capacity that Jamaica needs to make the destination more pristine, said Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett.

Tagging the partnership a game changer for both tourism's future development and community growth in Jamaica, the minister said that the deal would benefit Jamaicans and would positively affect how the country strategically markets its product to a larger audience.

The minister spoke with The Gleaner immediately after signing the sponsorship deal at the Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco, California, on Thursday.

Airbnb, which does not own any lodgings, simply brokers and receives percentage service fees from both guests and hosts with every booking. The company has more than three million lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries registered with it.

Bartlett's senior adviser, Delano Seiveright, said, "Airbnb also made a commitment to strengthen partnerships in Trench Town to boost community tourism in the area, where global reggae icon Bob Marley lived for many years."




Members of Airbnb's executive team are set to visit the island late September to, among other things, deepen micro-entrepreneurial arrangements with many Jamaican homeowners and supporting businesses, thereby increasing the number of visitors, according to Seiveright.

Airbnb currently boasts thousands of active hosts and active listings contributing 32,000 visitors to the island last year, benefiting many communities across the island, including Portmore, St Catherine; Treasure Beach, St Elizabeth; and Negril, Westmoreland.

As part of Bartlett's strategy to diversify and enhance Jamaica's tourism product, coordinated marketing arrangements will be built out as a way of targeting visitors from new and emerging markets using the Airbnb platform.

The tourism minister pointed out: "Perhaps the most significant outcome of our meeting with Airbnb is the overall marketing partnership that we are forging with them concerning the new markets we are going to enter like China and India. We can collaborate with their platform as a means of bringing the content, images of Jamaica, and the messages of Jamaica to those specific markets."

Executives of Airbnb say that Jamaica is among the best reviews on Airbnb globally, making the country a model for the world. They have made the commitment to collaborate with the Tourism Linkages Network in further building out the tourism product - especially for community tourism within rural Jamaica and the inner city.