Business

Airbnb launches Trips in Jamaica

BY HORACE HINES
Observer staff reporter
hinesh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

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Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett is elated that community tourism got a major boost after Jamaica's tourism officials deepened ties recently with Airbnb, the world's largest home lodgings platform.

Last week Airbnb launched its Trips platform in Jamaica, adding the 'Land of Wood and Water' to a growing list of international destinations offering bookable local experiences, making it easier for entrepreneurial Jamaicans to share their passions and interests with people from across the globe.

“This is a major development for Jamaica and positions us as a pioneering destination regionally and internationally. We are the second island in the Caribbean to have this. We have been very serious, via our Linkages programme, about spreading the benefits on tourism into communities across Jamaica and not just limit it to traditional resort areas. This move will assist in changing the dynamics to the benefit of many Jamaicans,” Tourism Minister Bartlett stated.

“From learning how to cook traditional dishes to discovering the rhythms of local genres of music and more, these new, locally-led experiences will allow visitors to see Jamaica in a unique way.”

The Airbnb Trips launch took place at the Global Tourism Conference held last week at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The Conference on Jobs and Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism was spearheaded by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the Ministry of Tourism, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and Chemonics.

Meanwhile, Chris Lehane, head of Global Policy and Public Affairs for Airbnb, was also excited about the launch.

“With this movement, Airbnb moves one step closer to bringing people and places together in one travel platform by enabling people-powered experiences to be listed alongside the thousands of homes already available to book through the home-sharing platform.

Airing Experiences are specifically designed to allow people to immerse themselves in local communities and participate in activities led by local experts, all while encouraging cross-cultural connections between locals and visitors,” Lehane noted.

Meanwhile, Senior Advisor and Strategist in the Tourism Ministry Delano Seiveright noted that Minister Bartlett visited Airbnb headquarters in August this year, following the signing of an MOU with them last year and “the collaboration is bearing a lot of positives”.

“The launch comes on the heels of figures showing 54,000 guest arrivals this year compared to 36,000 for all of last year and an additional 5,600 active listings today coming from 3,600 last year.

Jamaica' s hosts earned a total of US$8.6 million or $1.1 billion this year over US$5.8 million last year, “almost all of which is pumped into the local economy,” Seiveright stated.

Lehane, a former special assistant counsel to US President Bill Clinton, stated that Airbnb Experience hosts get to share the Jamaica they know and love with others, while earning additional money.

“From Kingston to Montego Bay, people will be able to book from 15 Experiences available on the platform in Jamaica, with more expected to populate the next few weeks and months. Airbnb travellers visiting Jamaica can now take the opportunity to experience the magic of Jamaica by immersing themselves in the unique local food, culture, music and lifestyle for which the country is renowned,” he noted.

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