NASSAU — You wouldn’t think a Caribbean hotelier would have anything positive to say about the sharing economy and companies like Airbnb.
But Karolin Troubetzkoy, Executive Director for Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain Resorts in Saint Lucia – and President of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association – says hotels can use the sharing economy as an opportunity rather than a threat. “Hotels can generate revenue from the alternative staying sector by engaging with travellers,” by selling day passes and use of spa facilities and restaurants, she said.
Troubetzkoy was a key speaker at the recent Caribbean Travel Marketplace, hosted by the CHTA at Atlantis Paradise Island. More than 1,000 delegates took part in the annual conference.
That said, sharing economy companies like Airbnb have fuelled an unprecedented consumer-driven movement in the travel industry, and “there needs to be a discussion regarding registration, licensing and some level of taxation to make a fairer playing field.” The Caribbean Tourism Organization has signed an agreement with Airbnb to share data and studies with policymakers about the positive impact of the sharing economy in the region; identify ways to make it more inclusive; broaden the benefits of tourism to non-traditional actors; attract new stakeholders; and focus on providing unique travel and cultural experiences.
A growing number of Caribbean destinations including Aruba, the Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Jamaica, Barbados and Turks & Caicos are working towards engaging with the sharing economy, looking at taxation, regulation and marketing of this emerging sector.
Troubetzkoy said that arrivals to the Caribbean will likely hit a record 30 million in 2017, however hotel occupancies will go down by 2%. “The variance being the sharing economy.” In the Caribbean over 80% of sharing economy clients will book an entire home.