ANGUILLA WANTS AN MOU WITH AIRBNB TO HELP PROMOTE TOURISM
“In the big question about tourism in Anguilla, people are always saying that things are slow on the island, but the figures suggest that the stay overs are up from last year,” says Mr. Cardigan Connor, Parliamentary Secretary, Tourism.
“I think one of the challenges for the major hotels is coming more from the villas and now, Airbnb, where a number of visitors, or repeat visitors to the island, can choose to stay in someone’s home or apartment,” he continued. “We are working very closely with Airbnb to come up with a Memorandum of Understanding on how best they can help market Anguilla and pay the [accommodation and other] taxes because, some of the time, throughout the Caribbean, Governments have not been able to collect the taxes when dealing with some of the online bookings, so the MOU would be a positive that our Treasury can benefit from.”
Mr. Connor pointed out that while the hotels are doing their own marketing, “Airbnb, and anybody in Anguilla, can market a room in your house so that people can come and stay there through the Airbnb system. I think there are over three hundred properties in Anguilla that are on Airbnb. Even if you go away for a month, you could say to Airbnb that your house is available for rent for that month – and they obviously will do their due diligence on their guests coming in.” He went on: “I also think that in reflecting on tourist numbers tax-drivers may say that they are not as busy as in the past, but I think that you would find over the past year, or two years, the number of persons operating taxis has probably doubled so even though the arrival numbers are up, they may not be a reflection of the taxi services. I think collectively there is a need for us to work closely as an island to make sure that there is a win-win for everybody.
Responding to a question, the Parliamentary Secretary made the point that both Airbnb and the hotels could work together to attract more visitors to Anguilla thus promoting tourism on the island: “The whole idea is to have an agreement to that effect with Airbnb – and in fact some of the major hotels are Airbnb clients as well. Airbnb is a big name in the business and if we have a Memorandum of Understanding with them they will help to promote us as a destination, and by that it would be a win-win for all. As I said, anybody can offer his or her house or just a room to visitors so it is a case of making sure that we all can benefit from it – not just the five star hotels but any Anguillian who feels that he or she wants to go in the service business by offering a house, an apartment or a room for rent.”
Mr. Connor further stated: “Airbnb is what you may call the new kid on the market, and it is something that can definitely work in our favour. The other thing is that we have Anguilla as a high quality destination. Now high quality should not only be at a five star hotel but also at a home in Anguilla as well. What is true is that more and more travelers these days want to feel closer to the people, rather than just coming for the sun and sand, the hotels and the restaurants. That leads me to my next point and that is we need to embark on a programme to keep Anguilla clean.”