Although Airbnb has spread exponentially throughout the world in a relatively short period of time, Jamaica is one of those countries that got left behind. Ministers believe policymakers relied heavily on sources such as bananas, sugar, and citrus to prop up their economy, without trying to grow it with other methods.
Edmund Barrett, Minister of Tourism, stated –
“We lost our way as an economy, settling heavily on the commodities that were the product of the colonial experience.”
But, the destination steeped in sun and sand have finally accepted change, with the official launch of the first Caribbean Airbnb host club in Kingston. Now, there’s a reason why Jamaica was selected as the country to spearhead Airbnb in the Caribbean, and it’s largely down to the friendly culture.
Carlos Munoz, head of public policy at Airbnb (Central America & the Caribbean) said –
“On the one side, Government has been tremendously receptive to the concept of Airbnb and home sharing in general as a way to diversify the tourism product that Jamaica offers. Also, it allows for more everyday Jamaicans to participate in the tourism industry.”
“Jamaica represents the standard that we hope to apply throughout the region in terms of openness, willingness to collaborate, and then having an organised host committee that is excited to share best practices, network, in terms of opportunities to promote each other’s products, and to grow as a community, Airbnb is tremendously exciting.”
Moreover, the partnership has no sign of slowing down, with plans to open up more host clubs in Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Port Antonio. It appears that many of the top Jamaican officials are incredibly enthusiastic about this development; one of which is Havanah Llewellyn, president of the Jamaica Home Sharing Association, who commented –
“Airbnb is probably one of the single most important things that have happened to Jamaica in the last 50 years. The tourism sector is now inclusive, and you are looking at the little guy participating in what Jamaica is about, the people. That’s what we’re known for; Sand and sun, all that is great, but it’s really about our people. Now you get an opportunity to really interact with our people.”