US $2.4 million Earned by Kingston, Jamaica Airbnb Users in 2017

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Hon. Edmund Bartlett urged more Jamaicans to embrace innovative tourism enterprises, such as Airbnb, as they have the potential to have a major impact on the local economy. He noted that in 2017 some 910 Kingston hosts earned a collective US$2.4 million from the digital home sharing site.

The accommodations website has also brought in 15,300 guests to Kingston and about 5,100 Jamaicans have used Airbnb to travel abroad.

Speaking at the launch of the Airbnb Kingston Host Club yesterday at the East Lawns of Devon House, Minister Bartlett expressed “the democratisation of tourism is now being brought about by the sharing economy. It creates a new approach to ensuring greater inclusiveness in the tourism industry to provide an opportunity for the small and medium tourism enterprises to grow and expand.”

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (second right) engages in dialogue with (from left) Vice President, Jamaica Homesharing Association, Shere-Ann Anderson; President, Jamaica Homesharing Association, Havanah Llewellyn and Head of Public Policy, Central America and the Caribbean, Airbnb Inc, Carlos Muñoz.

Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett (second right) engages in dialogue with (from left) Vice President, Jamaica Homesharing Association, Shere-Ann Anderson; President, Jamaica Homesharing Association, Havanah Llewellyn and Head of Public Policy, Central America and the Caribbean, Airbnb Inc, Carlos Muñoz.

Airbnb has already launched over 200 home sharing clubs around the world – 9 in Mexico; 14 in Brazil and 2 in Argentina.  The launch event in Jamaica is significant as the country is now the first host club in the Caribbean.

“It is no coincidence that we have selected Jamaica to launch this initiative in the Caribbean because essentially we have received such a warm welcome from everyone in Jamaica – not just our host community but government and other sectors who understand how the home sharing economy and partners such as Airbnb can benefit the entire community in Jamaica,” said Carlos Muñoz, head of public policy at Airbnb Inc, Central America and the Caribbean.

The tourism minister went on to share that platforms of this nature also create a unique marketing opportunity for the destination, as it allows the world to see in real-time by visitors, that the destination is safe.

“The greatest statement of security that any country can hope to have is from the experiences of those who are actually in your space. So, when the visitor comes and stays in Trench Town and shares a room in Greenwich Town, and then moves around, he can authenticate the safety of the destination,” said the Minister.

According to data received from Airbnb there are now 3,100 hosts in Jamaica, up from 2,300 in December 2016. Listings also saw a minor increase from 4,000 in 2016 to 5,900 in 2017.  Visitor usage saw the most significant increase from 32,000 in 2016 to 59,500 in the last 12 months.

In November of last year, Airbnb launched its ‘Experiences’ platform in Jamaica, adding the island to the growing list of international destinations that offer unique experiences and activities designed and directed by local hosts that allow visitors to discover local communities in an authentic way.  Since its launch, 48 different experiences were made available on the platform, with 319 bookings made and Jamaicans collectively earning US $13,925.

The Minister noted that his Ministry was quick to collaborate with Airbnb as it represents a new type of tourism model – primarily targeted to the millennial traveller.

“Jamaica must be at the cusp now of understanding this change and respond to it, or we are going to be left behind, and we will become hewers of wood and drawers of water.

“We can’t allow ourselves to be left out, so we have to engage our small operators and local partners who feel threatened by these disruptions taking place in the industry. We are going to work with you and educate you more and put funding in place for transition through innovation,” said Minister Bartlett.

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