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TTC Special: CTO seeks “the maximum benefit” from Airbnb

By F. Martin

TTC Service.-The expansion and success of the Airbnb in the Caribbean region led the CTO to analyze its relationships with the American company in search of “maximum benefits.”

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and government representatives from eight member countries “discussed” with Airbnb officials recently about its growing presence in the region and “to address areas of mutual cooperation as outlined in an agreement signed in February”.

Airbnb is an online marketplace and hospitality service, enabling people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, hostel beds, or hotel rooms. The exceptional peculiarity of the company is that not own any lodging. It is just a broker and receives percentage service fees from both guests and hosts in conjunction with every booking.

“It is our responsibility to speak with Airbnb and other players in the sector to get the maximum benefit from this phenomenon,” said to the press CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley.

Riley informed that discussions covered safety and security, standards, policies, the importance of the region’s cultural heritage, and how Airbnb is expanding economic opportunities in the region.

The Caribbean shares some concerns with the successful operations of the commercial entity.

The Minister of Tourism of Belize, Manuel Heredia, explained that one of his concerns is the availability of official data on the impact of Airbnb on the accommodation sector, including the percentage of visitors who stay in Airbnb-listed properties.

“If we work together and we have control over it, this will be something positive for the Caribbean and for Belize. My technical team will collaborate with Airbnb to make sure that we learn as much as possible in order to establish the proper regulations so this works in a beneficial way.” Heredia added.

Independent Traveler, a web magazine opined that the vast majority of Airbnb rentals go smoothly, but see at least “seven problems” in its operations.

The digital site summarized the problems in the following headlines: “The place isn’t what I expected. Something isn’t working during my stay. I don’t like my host (or another guest). I’m not sure if my rental is legal. The host canceled my reservation at the last minute.I lost my key (or locked myself out) and “the host wrote me a bad review”.

All problems are casual and of possible quick solution.

The Caribbean’s great attention to the company is far more transcendent in the financial angle and can be condensed in statistics. Airbnb has over 3,000,000 lodging listings in 65,000 cities and 191 countries. Currently there are 41,000 Airbnb listings across the Caribbean and a typical host in the Caribbean earns approximately $3,900 a year.