BVI News

BVI forges formal partnership with Airbnb, signs MOU

A section of the main island of Tortola. (Photo by Davion Smith/BVI News)

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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  1. Complicated says:

    First of all Air BnB is interested in its own success above all, and has a market capitalization in the tens of billions (and no assets other than their platform) They are present in > 1,000 cities around the world, so do not think that they are reaching out to the BVIs out of the goodness of their hearts.

    Secondly, there are the business issues for situations where space is made available for a fee. For example, should all hosts be required to have trade licenses? Will the govt issue trade licenses to non-belonger owners, especially those who don’t live on island? Would they need to get a local partner? Would trade license holders (presumably owners) then be required to apply for work permits? Would it be OK for a tenant to engage in AIrBnB business? What would the consequence be for those who do not comply? In some municipalities, AirBnB cannot list hosts who have not met local requirements. Will an owner be required to then pay social security taxes on earnings as well as income tax. How is this supposed to be tracked? Will AirBnB be collecting and paying occupancy taxes on behalf of owners? Will there be occupancy standards? And, do all landholders licenses permit such rental use of the property?

    Don’t get me wrong. I think these kinds of platforms have their use and I have used them both as a guest and host (though not in the BVIs) but they come with some complications that were never considered when the AirBnB concept was originally conceived. These issues are difficult enough to deal with in most places so it is hard to imagine dealing with the BVI’s complicated mess of trade licenses, work permits, tax payments etc. Maybe a good place to streamline the process.

    Like 13
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    • OZYMANDIAS says:

      Yeah but type in W—- FAHIE in Air BnB and you rejected! LOL better have a WHITE name cause that algorithm wicked. LOL

    • Anonymous says:

      Do not worry, the politicians will screw this up especially if their hands are not in everyone’s pockets. How about this, let everyone try this for a year or so and don’t get the government involved. Everyone has suffered from the Hurricane in one way or another. It would be nice to allow people to recover a bit before the government tries to tax the s**t out of this. The government has caused the lack of recovery which has caused the lack of tourists staying on the island. Leave everyone alone for the next year so that we can all recover.

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  2. Mad says:

    Who is going to share their space for free? Not me for sure

    Like 3
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  3. Dept of Revenue says:

    Good source of revenue.

  4. dj says:

    Maybe if we opened our doors to the larger hotel chains and restaurants previously we wouldn’t be in the sad shape we’re in now. NO that will take business away from us locals??? Who now have nothing.

    Like 7
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    • CW says:

      It specifically allows you to make money. How is providing locals a way to do business taking business away from locals? Do you even consider what might be positive? SMH this is why BVI has had a rough recovery. No common sense other than the SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT

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  5. VG Resident says:

    I have been on the AirBNB platform for years for my villa and have never gotten any guests thru AirBNB AirBNB are very difficult to deal with and most of their customers are looking for cheap rooms to stay in. AirBNB will not be an answer except for those who have extra living accommodations in their homes. It just does not fit the typical BVI home.

  6. Anonymous says:

    The locals are always worried that they are going to lose something by allowing others in to do business. The locals need to look at the Bahamas after independence. They Bahamas was on their knees begging like the poor. Then comes Sol Kersner with Atlantis and all of a sudden there are tourists which cause shops to open which caused cruise ships to come which caused more shops to open which caused employment which caused more hotels which caused a new airport and island prosperity. Sooo, stay small, think small, keep everything for yourselves and you will have a grand total of absolutely nothing. 10% of a $100 billion is a lot more than 100% of ten dollars.

    Like 10
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  7. Recovery in Reverse says:

    By doing this the BVI will increase it’s homeless population and create an affordable housing crisis. Why? Because once the smart landlords realize they can make more in the short term rental market from Home Away and Air B&B, you are going to have less apartments and rental homes available for local residents who need rental apartments. Once demand goes up for long-term rental, the monthly rental rates will go sky high..out of the reach of the common man and women. BVI you don’t have to do what others are doing. You are a small island so the consequences are detrimental to your local residents/workforce.

    Go and ask New York City, Washington DC, Charlotte NC, San Francisco CA, Settle, Boston, etc. what this has done to their affordable housing units? While you are at it, ask them what policies their city councils who dare go up against Air B&B had to do to attempt to stem the tide. And their efforts yielded very little results.

  8. //// says:

    When you clean up, get decent roads, provide water and sewer and clean air for inhabitants and half way reasonable food prices and half way decent customer service…you will get guest… Not until then.. AirBnB can not provide these things for you, neither will a few hammocks and telescopes help you. Use some common sense.

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