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Jamaican Tourism Minister Says Government Won’t Tax Airbnb Operators

Jamaica's Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett (centre), presents members of the Airbnb executive leadership team with Usain Bolt-branded t-shirts, following a strategic meeting at Airbnb Headquarters in San Francisco, California in August 2017. Sharing in the moment are (from left) Ministry of Tourism’s Senior Advisor/ Strategist, Delano Seiveright; Airbnb’s Global Head of Strategic Safety Initiatives, Clark Stevens; Airbnb’s Head of Global Policy and Communications, Chris Lehane; Jamaica’s Honorary Consul to Los Angeles, Lorna Mae Johnson; Airbnb’s then-Regional Director of Public Policy for Central America and the Caribbean, Shawn Sullivan; and Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy and Government Affairs, Carlos Muñoz. Photo contributed.

Jamaican Tourism Minister Says Government Won’t Tax Airbnb Operators

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, says that the Government has no intention of imposing a tax on persons who are renting out their homes or providing space for travellers who have booked through Airbnb.

“I have heard the false reports, especially on social media… [but] nothing could be further from the truth, as we have had no such discussion.

“What we have discussed is an administrative charge being levied on Airbnb, which will in no way, shape or form affect what is being paid over by Airbnb to property owners”.

Mr. Bartlett, who was speaking to JIS News following a fundraising event at the Jewel Grande Montego Bay Hotel & Spa in Rose Hall, St. James, recently, said that many Jamaicans continue to make a good living from being a part of the Airbnb global network and is encouraging more persons to join the programme.

“There have been a lot of success stories going on around the country. It is very heartwarming to see small properties in places like Port Antonio… now getting a new lease on life courtesy of Airbnb,” he said.

“What you are finding is that tourism is now actively alive and well in places. All over Jamaica… in Trench Town, in Spanish Town, in Clarendon…the Airbnb fever has caught on,” Mr. Bartlett noted.

He added that the programme is also assisting with promoting Jamaica as a destination, pointing to the level of interaction and the friendships being developed between hosts and guests.

“This is community tourism at its best. I keep saying everywhere I go that Jamaica’s biggest and most iconic asset is its people, and that is what I am seeing with those who are on the Airbnb programme. They are feeling what it is like to be a part of tourism. Rooms are being added to provide more space, and repeat visitors are coming back in droves,” he said.

Airbnb is an online marketplace, which enables people to rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests.

In December 2016, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed by the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and Airbnb to establish a framework for cooperation to further boost and diversify Jamaica’s tourism product.

Minister Bartlett, along with other local officials, subsequently met with the leadership team of Airbnb at the entity’s San Francisco, California, headquarters in August 2017.

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