Airbnb Opens Opportunities To Jamaicans

Jamaica’s tourism is in full recovery mode, and the online home-rental platform Airbnb has been giving more Jamaicans a chance to earn a living from the lucrative hospitality sector.

Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, said that 29 percent of the 2.6 million stopover visitors who came to Jamaica last year did so through Airbnb.

He said that during the pandemic, when many persons lost their jobs, Airbnb provided a lucrative income-earning opportunity.

“What it tells us is that ordinary Jamaicans are opening their homes as accommodations and have been doing very well,” the Minister said.

“This is what we mean when we say tourism is inclusive. This is why we have all the training and outreach programs, such as speed networking, to get all our people involved. It must also be noted that Airbnb, as a company, donated US$250,000 to our Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre [GTRMC] located at the University of the West Indies,” he stated.

The GTRMC is designed to help vulnerable States around the world recover quickly from natural disasters. It specifically targets destination preparedness, management, and recovery from disruptions and/or crises that threaten economies and livelihoods with real-time data and effective communication.

It is also a transformative tool that seeks to safeguard and protect the tourism product of countries as well as ensure the sustainability of tourism globally.

Mr. Bartlett says that a recent investor report showing Airbnb reporting a profit of US$319 million in the final quarter of last year on revenue of nearly $2 billion is an indication of how the homestay concept has exploded around the world, with Caribbean countries like Jamaica benefiting.

“It’s almost surreal to think that Airbnb, an online marketplace for short-term homestays and experiences, was born just 16 years ago [2007] when two hosts welcomed three guests to their San Francisco home.

“It has since grown to over four million hosts, who have welcomed more than one billion guests in almost every country across the globe,” Mr. Bartlett noted.

He said that in Jamaica, an Airbnb can be found in every parish.

“This has added to our tourism offerings where there is now something for everybody. Every day, Airbnb hosts offer unique stays and experiences that make it possible for guests to connect with communities in a more authentic way. It thrills us to hear some of the stories from our Jamaican hosts… many who will readily tell you that they had no idea it was this easy to be a part of the tourism sector,” Minister Bartlett points out.

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Edited by Jesus Chan

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