A memorandum of understanding (MOU) to establish a framework for cooperation to further boost and diversify Jamaica’s tourism product, was signed on December 13, 2016 by the Jamaica Tourist Board and home-sharing accommodation company Airbnb.
Ahead of the signing, at the Jamaica Tourist Board’s New Kingston offices, Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett expressed his excitement about the positive impact he expects the partnership to have on the travel experience of visitors and Jamaica’s tourism product overall.
“This partnership will help expose our visitors to our rich culture and showcase the warm Jamaican hospitality for which we are known the world over. I also believe great things will come from this, as we cooperate in areas of common interest, including marketing Jamaica as a tourist destination; promoting sporting events as well as our festivals and other cultural events; and fostering responsible home sharing,” said Minister Bartlett.
The Airbnb digital platform is currently used by approximately 140 million people in more than 34,000 cities and 191 countries. Its growing popularity has caused some concern locally from tourism interests, as it currently surpasses some major hotel chains in terms of number of beds offered and market valuation.
However, Minister Bartlett outlined that Airbnb and other digitally-operated travel platforms, should not be feared by tourism interests locally. In fact, according to statistics provided by Airbnb, the company was responsible for bringing 32,000 tourists to the country in the past year.
“The popularity of Airbnb is not necessarily a bad thing for our hospitality industry. I think we should face the fact that these technology-driven firms are here to stay. They could not be growing rapidly in size and scale to rival some of the world’s largest transportation and hospitality businesses unless there was a demand for the type of services they provide. So, they should be embraced and not feared,” said Minister Bartlett.
“This agreement has been long in coming and will play a key role in our efforts to diversify our tourism product to cater to the passions of a growing demographic. I am confident that our partnership with Airbnb will be a fruitful one which will help to boost arrivals and enable more Jamaicans to participate in the tourism sector,” said Chairman of the Jamaica Tourist Board, John Lynch.
“We are excited to announce this partnership with the Jamaica Tourist Board. Jamaica is a world class tourist destination that offers visitors a unique experience against a beautiful backdrop. Whether you come to Jamaica for the beaches, the country’s fascinating history and culture, amazing food or warm people, Jamaica has something to offer everyone. We look forward to continuing our work with everyone involved in promoting Jamaica as a top travel destination,” said Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb’s Public Policy lead for Central America and the Caribbean. “Airbnb travelers seek unique and authentic travel experiences and Jamaica offers just that,” he noted.
Under the terms of the memorandum of understanding, there will be regulatory measures in place that will benefit and safeguard Jamaican Airbnb hosts and by extension, the country. It will also take into account destination assurance, by establishing hosting standards and best practices for homestay facilities.
Airbnb is a community marketplace established in 2008. It allows people to list, discover, and book unique short-term accommodations around the world online or from a mobile phone or tablet.