Antigua & Barbuda signs Airbnb agreement

Tourism Minister Asot Michael with Shawn Sullivan

Antigua & Barbuda has joined other Caribbean countries in signing an agreement with AirBnB which will strengthen the tourism sector, according to Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, Asot Michael said.

“The tourism and services industry is continually evolving, and Airbnb is the largest game changer in the accommodation sector,” Michael said at the signing on Tuesday.

The California-based service, which allows persons to provide and book accommodations in over 181 countries, signed the agreement in New York. It will start a conversation on creating a framework for taxation which is intended to assist hosts to be able to pay accommodation taxes through the service.

“I believe it is a good achievement. It is something that is happening all over the world and Airbnb is a good product for us to travel. For the government, it is a good achievement,” said Alex DeBrito, chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda Tourism Association (ABTA).

This agreement comes after top players in the regional hotel industry expressed their concerns over Airbnb, which provides tourists with cheaper accommodation rates than hotels at times.

Locally, villas and private homes accommodate Airbnb customers.

Earlier last year, some hoteliers raised their concerns about the informal accommodation service taking over traditional hotel rooms. Meanwhile, others said that proper regulations should be put in place to offer similar taxation to Airbnb hosts as hotels.

Debrito told OBSERVER media that these concerns were a worldwide problem and tourism involves the wider industry, not just hotels. “Tourism is not only hotels, it is everything involved in it … I think Airbnb is something that gives another option for tourists to come and stay in our country,” DeBrito said.

Shawn Sullivan, Airbnb’s Public Policy lead for Central America and the Caribbean, expressed pride in sharing the spinoff effect that Airbnb’s presence will have in Antigua & Barbuda.

(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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