Embrace Airbnb - Shaw
Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw has called for the increased integration of Airbnb operations into community tourism offerings.
He noted that the Airbnb concept is being embraced in places like Trench Town in St Andrew, and "we want to see it accelerated" in order to expand offerings in the tourism sector and bring more visitors to Jamaica's shores.
Shaw was speaking at the International Community Tourism Conference on Tuesday at the Mona Visitors' Lodge in St Andrew, where he urged local stakeholders to "open up the doors of the tourism product for expansion".
Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service, which is accessible via its websites and mobile apps. Members can use the service to arrange or offer lodging, primarily home stays, or tourism experiences.
Airbnb hosts in Kingston earned approximately US$2.4 million in 2017. Shaw said Airbnb should not be seen as some form of "inherent competitor to our community tourism," but should instead be "integrated and personalised as a "Jamaican experience".
"Airbnb has an international platform. It already has a mechanism for information; embrace it, because that is a platform to reach the world, and to introduce and bring tourists into our communities," he added.
Shaw further asserted that community tourism stakeholders to accept their role in ensuring that the industry continues to grow and strive.
"When we open up the doors, we must understand that there is a mutuality of responsibility that we have. When the tourists come to our communities, we must collectively gather around them, and protect them," he said.
The four-day conference, which started on Monday, is organised by the International Institute of Peace through Tourism under the theme 'Building Communities as Businesses'. It includes exploring community tourism case studies from Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, and countries in Africa.