AIRBNB MOU SIGNING TO HELP BOOST ANGUILLA TOURISM
On Tuesday March 21, the Government of Anguilla signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbnb. The signing ceremony took place, at the Anguilla Tourist Board’s Office where a number of stakeholders were present.
The MoU was signed by Chief Minister and Minister of Tourism, Mr. Victor Banks, on behalf of the Anguilla Government, and Mr. Shawn Sullivan, of Airbnb’s Public Policy Director for Central America and the Caribbean. The MoU is the first step in a new process that will help in promoting tourism in Anguilla.
Speaking on the impact that Airbnb currently has on Anguilla, Mr. Shawn Sullivan noted: “Currently there are 100 hosts on the island with 317 listings…Over the past 12 months we were responsible for bringing in nearly 600 tourists and the average Airbnb host on the island made US$4,400 dollars…We see this as a great opportunity to work with the Government of Anguilla, Anguilla Hotel & Tourism Association and other stakeholders.”
Chief Minister Banks observed that he was happy to welcome Airbnb to Anguilla and hoped that the partnership would do positive things for the island. He noted: “We have the opportunity for all persons to be involved in the tourism accommodation business. This gives meaning to what we say – “Tourism is everybody’s business”. Mr. Banks further noted that the MoU agreement, would allow the Government of Anguilla to operate “on a legitimate level” with Airbnb and put in place the processes which are required to ensure that the requisite tax revenue is collected.
Parliamentary Secretary of Tourism, Mr. Cardigan Connor, remarked: “Formalizing our relationship with Airbnb will boost tourism in Anguilla and promote local enterprise by allowing Anguillians and homeowners to fully participate in the tourism industry and provide unique localized cultural experiences.”
Also at the sigining ceremony was Chairperson of the Anguilla Tourist Board, Ms Donna Banks who said: “The Anguilla Tourist Board recognizes that this MoU is the first step in a process that will include the input of key stakeholders and,…if respected by all parties involved, will be to the benefit of each special interest group – the host, Airbnb, Government and people of Anguilla, and the tourism industry in general.”
She continued: “The ATB envisions a regulated sector that promotes:
a) Harmony in the wider sector.
b) Establishment of standards to protect, and not compromise the integrity of Brand Anguilla.
c) Collection of data that will assist in enhancing the guest experience locally, as well as facilitate a more targeted marketing strategy.
d) Cooperation and marketing support to assist in raising the profile of Anguilla as the answer to a perfect Caribbean vacation.
e) The collection and transfer of all revenue due to the Government of Anguilla.”
Ms. Banks further noted: “We welcome the signing of the MoU and look forward to the completion of the process in the quickest possible time.”
Tourism is the lifeblood of Anguilla and, in view of this Mr. Delroy Lake, President of the Anguilla Hotel & Tourism Association(AHTA), commented: “Airbnb provides a new, far reaching and dynamic marketing distribution platform for tourism experience, one that consumers are increasingly gravitating towards, as they seek new types of experiences. We therefore embrace this new opportunity to reach new consumers. However, as a destination, we have to remain vigilant to ensure we leverage maximum economic benefit for the island and proactively manage any arising challenges that may ensue.” Mr. Lake also noted, “It is important for Anguilla to regulate and maximize the activities of any tourism-related business doing business in Anguilla or with Anguilla.” And that it was “important for standards and regulations to be put in place to protect the new guests and customers and further protect Anguilla as a tourism destination.”