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Airbnb, Jamaica Team Up to to Promote, Expand Tourism In the Island Nation

Photo: Rudranath Fraser

Photo: Rudranath Fraser

The Jamaica Tourist Board has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with United States-based online company Airbnb Inc. for the promotion of the country’s tourism product, particularly in the area of accommodation.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people wanting to rent their homes and spaces with people needing affordable accommodations.

Minister of Tourism Hon. Edmund Bartlett said the two-year agreement “establishes a framework for cooperation to further boost and diversify Jamaica’s tourism product as we seek to attract five million arrivals in five years and to earn $5 billion.”

He said it will provide visitors with access to economical, easy-to-find lodging, as well as create income for ordinary Jamaicans by allowing them to rent their homes/rooms to visitors.

Minister Bartlett, who was addressing the signing ceremony held at the JTB’s New Kingston offices on Dec. 13, said the MOU provides opportunity to create positive travel experiences for visitors to the island and expose them to Jamaica’s rich culture and warm hospitality.

He noted that in addition to fostering responsible home sharing, it will help to promote sporting events, festivals and other cultural activities.

Benefits will flow back to communities from the sale of arts and crafts, entertainment, transportation services and tour-guide services

“Travelers choose Airbnb to experience destinations not as tourists but as locals. This is a boon for community tourism,” the Minister pointed out. “Visitors get to completely immerse themselves in the local culture and experience the real Jamaica as they interact with locals, discover local attractions and sample local cuisine,”

Speaking with JIS News following the event, Shawn Sullivan, Public Policy Director for Central America and the Caribbean, Airbnb Inc., said that through the partnership, the company intends to build on the Jamaica brand “and really push more tourists here.”

He said Jamaica is already benefiting from Airbnb’s services, noting that last year, the company was responsible for bringing approximately 32,000 tourists to Jamaica.

“It is our expectation that, with this MOU and working collaboratively with the tourism authorities and the Ministry of Tourism, we are going to be able to continue to grow that number, hopefully, exponentially,” Sullivan said.

Sullivan said the company is to set up a working group with the government and other stakeholders to look at how Airbnb can support the JTB’s tourist promotions in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.

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