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Airbnb, CTO strengthen partnership to drive tourism in Caribbean region

The Airbnb travel platform and the Caribbean Tourism Organization announced an agreement to promote destinations in the Caribbean, a research project on the impact of last year’s hurricane season, and continued joint outreach for collaboration with local governments, the organizations announced.

Airbnb hosted CTO CEO Hugh Riley at its San Francisco headquarters and announced the new commitments to promoting authentic and sustainable travel in the region, as well as continuing to grow economic opportunity.

“We’re 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,” said Riley.

Last year alone, more than 1.6 million guests booked accommodation in the Caribbean through the platform, an increase of 117 percent compared to 2016, Airbnb confirmed.

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 Riley’s visit, the CTO and Airbnb 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.

“Airbnb is deeply committed to the Caribbean and we are 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,” said Chris Lehane, head of Global Policy and Public Affairs for Airbnb.

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

Through various marketing partnerships in the region, the platform has collaborated with regional tourism boards and enabled destinations to reach Airbnb’s 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 times. The 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 has confirmed an uptick in bookings for the upcoming high season and is working to spread the word that the Caribbean in open for business. In Puerto Rico alone, the platform now has more listings than pre-Hurricane María levels, it added.

The research will consider the ways in which home-sharing help affected communities restore economic activity in the tourism industry. Additionally, Airbnb is committed to expanding the Open Homes program in the Caribbean. This program provides free temporary housing to people displaced by natural disasters and relief workers.

Earlier this year, Airbnb and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company also agreed to launch a destination marketing campaign to highlight the island, in addition to cementing a lodging tax collection agreement.

Puerto Rico collaborated with Airbnb on a series of targeted efforts, including the launch of Airbnb’s popular Experiences feature on island to help drive tourism in the country as it rebuilds following Hurricane Maria.

Airbnb will continue working with governments to promote the benefits of visiting the Caribbean to help stimulate inclusive, sustainable tourism throughout the region, it added.

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