BROOKLYN, New York): CARIBBEAN TIMES NEWS has learned that online travel platform Airbnb and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) have announced new commitments to promote authentic and sustainable travel in the Caribbean region.

Last year alone, over 1.6 million guests booked accommodation in the Caribbean through the platform, an increase of 117 per cent compared to 2016. The CTO said that through collaboration with local stakeholders, Airbnb has demonstrated its commitment to support healthy tourism and has signed collaboration or voluntary tax collection agreements with 14 countries in the region.

During a visit by CTO chief executive officer and Secretary General Hugh Riley, to Airbnb’s San Francisco headquarters, the two entities signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) pledging to cooperate on areas of mutual interest including: the promotion of Caribbean countries as desirable tourism destinations; the undertaking of joint research to understand the impact of the home-sharing on economic recovery following the 2017 hurricane season and other areas of mutual interest to both organizations.

“We are proud of the fact that the Caribbean is in such high demand among diverse and very discerning global travelers. Essentially Airbnb is helping to make our region more competitive and to spread the benefits of the tourism industry across traditional and non-traditional segments of our communities,” Riley said.

Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs for Airbnb said his company was deeply committed to the Caribbean and was proud to take this next step with the CTO “to advance our mission of local, authentic, and sustainable travel in the region”.

“The platform helps diversify the tourism sector, attract new travelers, and empower over 50,000 hosts across the region,” he said.

Hosts set their desired listing price on the platform and pay a three per cent commission to Airbnb for its platform services, allowing them to pocket 97 per cent of the nightly rate. In the Caribbean, a typical host earned US$3,700 in the last 12 months.

Through various marketing partnerships in the region, the platform has collaborated with regional tourism boards and enabled destinations to reach Airbnb’s vast global community through the company’s robust media platforms. This broader partnership with the CTO includes exploring collaborative ways to market the region and partnerships to facilitate destination marketing, host recruitment, improving the guest experience, and the expansion of disaster relief efforts.

The joint research undertaking with the CTO builds on Airbnb’s commitment to help strengthen communities around the world in tough timesThe hyperactive 2017 hurricane season saw Harvey, Irma, and Maria severely impact the region, resulting in billions of dollars of damage. Airbnb saw a downturn in September 2017, but is excited to note an uptick in bookings for the upcoming high season and is working steadfast to spread the word that the Caribbean in open for business. In Puerto Rico alone the platform now has more listings than pre-Hurricane Maria level.

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