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No tax for Jamaican Airbnbs, vows Bartlett

Published:Monday | May 13, 2019 | 12:35 AMAlbert Ferguson/Gleaner Writer
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.


Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett says small-scale Jamaican property owners who provide hospitality services in the country’s tourism sector will not be required to pay a tax for their properties, as has been the case for players in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

He says Jamaica is currently in an advanced stage of negotiations with Airbnb for them to pay over to the Government a cess towards helping small players in this sector to effectively market their properties.

“... With Airbnb, our lawyers and their lawyers are working through the final arrangement for a cess, which will allow for a contribution from Airbnb itself, not to the local host, to be paid to Jamaica equivalent ... , in terms of their room sizes that they are involved with,” Bartlett told The Gleaner last night.

Airbnb property owners in the BVI will now be required to pay a hotel-accommodation tax.

The new development comes five months after a memorandum of understanding was signed with the United States-based homestay providers, Airbnb.

“The arrangement with us (Jamaica) and Airbnb is much more than a tax, it is a partnership in terms of data and information sharing so as to maximise our market-intelligence capabilities and to assist us in structuring our advertising and promotional activities (of the sector),” Bartlett said in response to the BVI’s arrangements.


He said that Jamaicans who provide homestay vacations on the Airbnb platform welcomed approximately 89,000 visitors in 2018, which is a significant increase over the previous year’s numbers. Approximately 55,000 guests booked Airbnb stays here in 2017, with an average spend of US$2,600.

“We are not going after direct taxation to impact the hosts, who are, by and large, the small entrepreneurs of our country who are making the inclusiveness of tourism something real, but rather, we are looking at a broader picture to see how Airbnb itself can partner with Jamaica to provide the necessary resource support for the many projects we have, particularly in destination-assurance strategies which are being developed,” Bartlett said.