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May 9, 2017

Airbnb Wants to Grow Market in Belize

Airbnb, an online marketplace which allows travelers to lease or rent short-term accommodations, is budding in Belize.  The hospitality service includes vacation rentals, apartments, homestays and hotel rooms.  While it does not own any of those properties, it serves as a commercial agent, receiving percentage services fees from both guests and hosts.  There are presently over four hundred hosts advertising properties in the country and while it promises to continue growing in numbers, the Belize Tourism Board is looking at the burgeoning sector for regulation and compliance.  Earlier today, representatives from Airbnb and B.T.B. met with various stakeholders to discuss the future of the overnight sector and guidelines that will standardize that area of the industry.  Among several concerns raised is the issue of market share.  Airbnb’s Regional Director for Public Policy in Central America and the Caribbean, Shawn Sullivan, says Belize is a promising market.

 

Shawn Sullivan

Shawn Sullivan, Regional Director, Airbnb

“Belize is not a big market for us but we think we have significant potential to grow.  The countries where we are able to strike a collaborative relationship with governments are countries where we end up growing faster and are more successful and our hope is to strike a deal with the Government of Belize on a range of issues that will allow us to continue to grow and drive more tourism to this country.  I think right now we have more than about four hundred hosts but I think it would be a great potential to grow.  Like I said, you know, it’s an open platform if people have a unique place that they want to put on our website they can do it and our hope is that working with stakeholders and the government we’re going to be able to bring more tours here and create more revenue for the government.”

 

Reporter

“I’ve noticed that one of the complaints that Airbnb seems to be getting from the traditional hospitality industry is that you all muscle in on, supposedly muscle in on market share that they already enjoy by offering cheaper housing and accommodation arrangements than they are able to market themselves as.  How do you respond that sort of criticism that you are negatively affecting the hotel industry that’s already established in these countries?”

 

Shawn Sullivan

“So one of the things that we offer to governments and one of the things that I’ve offered to the Government of Belize is that we would, we are willing to collect and remit taxes on behalf of our hosts.  So the same applicable tax rates that hotels face here, we would apply that to our hosts to help level the playing field and we are also willing to help with the government and stakeholders to figure out what would be an appropriate type of regulation that would be appropriate for small businesspeople which are basically what our hosts are.  They are people that have one or two homes and they are renting out and we think that working with them, working with the government we should be able to strike a balance that makes everyone happy.  And in general, what we’ve found is that when Airbnb and starts growing in a market we grow tourism by thirty percent, so that also benefits the hotels as well.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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