Airbnb launches new service to Jamaica
Christopher Lehane, Global Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Airbnb and Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett.
Online travel and market place service, Airbnb, launched its Trip platform in Jamaica on Wednesday as it expands services to include travel Experiences for visitors around the world, while making it easier for Jamaican entrepreneurs to share their passions and interests with people around the world.
The launch took place at the UNWTO Global Conference on Jobs & Inclusive Growth: Partnerships for Sustainable Tourism, being mounted at the Montego Bay Convention Centre. The event is hosted by the UNWTO, Government of Jamaica, World Bank Group and the Inter-America Development Bank. Platinum sponsors include Airbnb, Sandals, AM Resorts, Digicel, Chukka Cove and The Jamaica National Group.
“Last year, 35,000 persons came to Jamaica because of Airbnb”, stated Jamaican Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett. “This year so far that number has jumped to 55,000. Last year there were 1500 partners room-wise. Today, we have 5,500. And this year, Airbnb has so far paid out US$8 million or close to a billion Jamaican dollars”.
“We are now arranging with Airbnb, in addition to a previous MOU, to build out Jamaica as an experience destination which will improve overall visitor experience,” added Bartlett.
The Tourism Minister pointed out that based on this new approach, visitors coming to Jamaica will be guaranteed a high-quality vacation. He emphasized that proper procedures would also be followed to ensure that standards were established and maintained.
“Airbnb has its own protocols and it will be synchronised with our own in relation to the standards that the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDco) provides so as to maintain the standards and quality controls to protect the integrity of our destination,” the minister explained, while adding that TPDCO and Airbnb would be signing an MOU next year to outline the standards.
Christopher Lehane, Global Head of Policy and Public Affairs, Airbnb, explained that the idea behind Airbnb was to ensure that tourism benefitted everyone.
“We are excited about this newest initiative. We believe in democratizing capitalism by allowing communities to benefit from tourism. Already, there are many Airbnb locations in Kingston, in areas such as Trench Town, that would not normally benefit from the tourist dollar,” he said.
“We believe that Jamaica is a natural place to be in the first tranche of our new Experiences platform. People are increasingly travelling around looking for attractions, food, art history and music. Jamaica has that in bountiful quality and its people are natural hosts,” he added.
He said there were already 15 registered Experience locations in Jamaica, with 11 in Kingston and four in Montego Bay.
“People are looking for unique experiences and already there are a few here. You can now get to view how jerk chicken is made and make your own. Also, the Alpha Institute now has Reggae 101 where people can learn reggae. We think that will be a great experience for visitors,” he said.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb’s mission is to create a world where people can belong, when they travel, by being connected to local cultures and having unique travel experiences.