With a decrease in the number of available accommodation for visitors since the September 2017 hurricanes, the BVI Tourist Board has signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbnb Incorporated — an online marketplace and hospitality service for people to lease or rent short-term lodging.
A media release from the Tourist Board said this partnership aims to drive local, authentic, and sustainable tourism to the territory and ‘democratize the tourism economy’.
“This partnership will help to strengthen tourism development, one of the nation’s largest economic sectors, and generate economic opportunity throughout the islands,” said Airbnb’s regional representative, Carlos Munoz.
The BVI/Airbnb agreement has also created the opportunity for persons in the BVI to benefit from Airbnb’s Open Homes programme.
Open Homes allows persons to share the extra space of their homes, for free, with people in need of temporary housing.
Airbnb said the programme started in 2012 after Hurricane Sandy hit the United States and a number of Airbnb hosts opened their homes to those displaced by the disaster.
“We created a programme that allowed the Airbnb community to share their space with those in need. The groups of people Open Homes supports are those displaced by natural disasters, conflict, or illness. We work closely with organisations like the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps to develop the programme and to help them find temporary housing on behalf of their clients,” Airbnb said.
The Tourist Board, in the meantime, described their agreement with Airbnb as a strategic partnership that “provides an enormous opportunity to expand the economic, cultural and environmental value that the tourism sector can bring”.
“We are pleased to be a formal part of the Airbnb network. We think Airbnb properties present a fabulous opportunity for home-share guests to be able to experience authentic British Virgin Islands culture and lifestyle,” said Tourism Director Sharon Flax-Brutus.
There are more than 100 Airbnb hosts throughout the BVI.
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