My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: How Ministry of Tourism over-reacting to 1000 Jamaicans on Airbnb as Trench Town Rocks


Friday, August 12, 2016

How Ministry of Tourism over-reacting to 1000 Jamaicans on Airbnb as Trench Town Rocks

The Secret is out! Jamaicans are making money from Bread and Breakfast Rentals from AirBnb. To All Americans and other tourists staying Downtown thanks to Airbnb, welcome to Jamrock, Damian Marley Style!

So much so that the Ministry of Tourism want to tax Jamaicans who benefit from listing on the website as reported in the article “Tourism Ministry Seeking To Collect Taxes From Airbnb Users”, published Friday June 24, 2016, The Jamaica Gleaner.

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Apparently the Ministry of Tourism, feigning concern over tourist’s safety, plans to tax visitors who come to Jamaica and rent a place to stay thanks to Airbnb. In fact, the Ministry of Tourism had even contacted Airbnb directly to collect taxes for persons visits Jamaica, as when the avoid hotels, much needed foreign exchange is lost.

There are some 1,000 listings on the Bread and Breakfast website, where Jamaicans can rent even a couch for the night and get paid via PayPal as noted in my MICO Wars blog article entitled “How Jamaicans can make money from Airbnb”. 

So that's a lot of lost revenue. Or is there something else at play here?

Ministry of Tourism and Airbnb - Government over-reacting to tourists Trench Town rock

Apparently the concern is that the Jamaican government is afraid of their good name being tarnished by poor room service in people's homes.  

Something tells me that not true. After all, if you’re a tourist, you're looking to pop in and out at minimum cost. Downtown offers some of the cheapest rate to spend one night on a couch and get a quick meal of boil dumpling, bananas and kidney with mint tea to wash it down. Again Welcome to Jamrock!

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If you're not too picky and you've got friends in Jamaica, you're stay at their home instead of a hotel and then visit the beaches on your own time as explained in my MICO Wars Blog article entitled “JA$250 million TPDCO’s Beach Upgrade Programme sees Lyssons Beach and Marking Stone become Public Beaches”.

But suppose you don't have that many friends and the even you're attending is just for a day or two. US$157 (JA$20,000) at the Pegasus Hotel for one night in any of their rooms is a bit steep.

So it’s not a surprise that as many as 1000 Jamaicans are making money from Airbnb with Trench Town cashing in foreigners eager to experience Trench Town, home community of Bob Marley for themselves as noted in “Airbnb now lists 1,500 rooms in Jamaica - Trench Town most popular rental site”, published August 10, 2016 by Al Edwards, LoopJamaica.

What the Ministry of Tourism needs to do is to create their own version of Airbnb to allow for overnight stays at people's homes instead of trying to deny Jamaicans a right to make foreign exchange.

After all, they have ignored downtown most of their political lives; their sudden “concern” appears to be driven by profit and not genuine interest in the welfare of tourists, many of whom are treated well and often generate repeat business for Trench Town and other Downtown Residents.

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