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AirBnB In Belize #523368
05/05/17 06:39 AM
05/05/17 06:39 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP
Airbnb to meet with Belizean Tourism Stakeholders

Meetings scheduled in May in San Pedro, San Ignacio & Santa Elena, and Belize City

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Re: AirBnB In Belize [Re: Marty] #523473
05/10/17 05:34 AM
05/10/17 05:34 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 59,364
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

AirBnB In Belize

You might know about the popular travel service called Airbnb. It's an online marketplace for hospitality services, which allows property owners in different countries to offer anything from a room to a home, to tourists. Airbnb offers travelers cheaper accommodations than the traditional hotels and resorts, and part of the attraction is that it puts the tourist in the heart of a country like a local.

Airbnb rentals are available in every corner of the world - including Belize.

There are over 400 property owners in Belize who are already registered as hosts in Airbnb. It matters because in countries where Airbnb has established a foothold, hotels have complained that the service has cut into their market.

So, today, BTB hosted a 2-hour conference with representatives of Airbnb to learn first-hand about how their business works. 7News was there, and we got a chance to speak with the representatives of the online company, and with BTB. Here's what they told us:

Shawn Sullivan, Representative - Airbnb
"Belize is not a big market for us but we think we have significant potential to grow. The countries where we are able to strike a collaborative relationship with governments are countries where we end up growing faster and are more successful. Our hope is to strike a deal with the government of Belize on a range of issues that would allow us to continue to grow and drive more tourism to this country."

Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism
"This is the way the industry is going. We have been seeing many articles particularly in the US, talking about the Airbnb issue. We have received concerns and questions from our stakeholders. We believe that the more information we gather the more information they get as well; we would be able to jointly put together the best way forward for Belize. Our intention is to better the tourism industry and we want to ensure that what we promote Belize as a destination as having a good experience, is the experience that guests and tourists truly get when they arrive in Belize. Our interest is to ensure that what is offered with Airbnb is of course up to the standard and the level that the destinations offer. We want to ensure that those who operate via Airbnb is also operating legally within Belize and it is a level playing field for those on Airbnb and those on their own reservation system as well."

Shawn Sullivan, Representative - Airbnb
"It's an open platform if people have a unique place that they want to put on our website, they can do it and our hope is that working with the government and stakeholders we're going to be able to bring more tourists here and create more revenue for the government."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Sir I've noticed that one of the complaints that Airbnb seems to be getting from the traditional hospitality industry is that you're all supposedly muscling on the market share that they already enjoy, by offering cheaper housing and accommodation arrangements than they are able to market themselves as. How do you respond to that sort of criticism that you are negatively affecting the hotel industry that's already established in these countries?"

Shawn Sullivan, Representative - Airbnb
"So one of the things that we offer the government and one of the things I've offered the government of Belize is that we're willing to collect and remit taxes on behalf of our host. The same applicable tax rate that hotels face here we will apply that to our host to help level the playing field. We're also willing to work with the government and stakeholders to figure out what would be an appropriate type of regulation that would be appropriate for small business people which are basically what our hosts are. They are people who have one or two homes they're renting out and we think that working with them and the government we should be able to strike a balance that makes everyone happy. In general, what we found Airbnb starts growing in a market, we grow tourism by 30%, so that also benefits the hotels as well."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"So you don't feel that you muscle in on their territory?"

Shawn Sullivan, Representative - Airbnb
"No I think it's a misunderstanding of how we operate."

Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism
"It's mixed views. I don't think anyone can definitely say Airbnb is the only factor impacting the tourism industry in any way but there are concerns. First of all, the hoteliers want to ensure that it's a level playing field and we as BTB want to ensure that as well. We want to ensure that all operators of accommodations are in compliance with the hotel and tourism accommodation act."

Currently, the Airbnb and BTB are in negotiations to ensure that the Belizeans acting as mini-hoteliers are properly taxed and regulated in a similar manner as the big resort owners and hoteliers. Right now, the BTB is not actively policing those 400 Airbnb hosts to ensure that they are compliant with the country's hotel and hospitality laws and standards.

Channel 7


Airbnb Wants to Grow Market in Belize

Airbnb, an online marketplace which allows travelers to lease or rent short-term accommodations, is budding in Belize.  The hospitality service includes vacation rentals, apartments, homestays and hotel rooms.  While it does not own any of those properties, it serves as a commercial agent, receiving percentage services fees from both guests and hosts.  There are presently over four hundred hosts advertising properties in the country and while it promises to continue growing in numbers, the Belize Tourism Board is looking at the burgeoning sector for regulation and compliance.  Earlier today, representatives from Airbnb and B.T.B. met with various stakeholders to discuss the future of the overnight sector and guidelines that will standardize that area of the industry.  Among several concerns raised is the issue of market share.  Airbnb’s Regional Director for Public Policy in Central America and the Caribbean, Shawn Sullivan, says Belize is a promising market.

Shawn Sullivan, Regional Director, Airbnb

“Belize is not a big market for us but we think we have significant potential to grow.  The countries where we are able to strike a collaborative relationship with governments are countries where we end up growing faster and are more successful and our hope is to strike a deal with the Government of Belize on a range of issues that will allow us to continue to grow and drive more tourism to this country.  I think right now we have more than about four hundred hosts but I think it would be a great potential to grow.  Like I said, you know, it’s an open platform if people have a unique place that they want to put on our website they can do it and our hope is that working with stakeholders and the government we’re going to be able to bring more tours here and create more revenue for the government.”

Reporter

“I’ve noticed that one of the complaints that Airbnb seems to be getting from the traditional hospitality industry is that you all muscle in on, supposedly muscle in on market share that they already enjoy by offering cheaper housing and accommodation arrangements than they are able to market themselves as.  How do you respond that sort of criticism that you are negatively affecting the hotel industry that’s already established in these countries?”

Shawn Sullivan

“So one of the things that we offer to governments and one of the things that I’ve offered to the Government of Belize is that we would, we are willing to collect and remit taxes on behalf of our hosts.  So the same applicable tax rates that hotels face here, we would apply that to our hosts to help level the playing field and we are also willing to help with the government and stakeholders to figure out what would be an appropriate type of regulation that would be appropriate for small businesspeople which are basically what our hosts are.  They are people that have one or two homes and they are renting out and we think that working with them, working with the government we should be able to strike a balance that makes everyone happy.  And in general, what we’ve found is that when Airbnb and starts growing in a market we grow tourism by thirty percent, so that also benefits the hotels as well.”

B.T.B. Says Airbnb Must Play by Local Rules

Director of Tourism at the B.T.B., Karen Bevans, says that the collaborative consumption and sharing that Airbnb enable are the future of the travel industry.  It is, however, being met with mixed reception from local stakeholders in the hotel sector.

Karen Bevans, Director of Tourism, B.T.B.

“This is the way the industry is going.  We have been seeing many articles, particularly in the U.S., talking about the Airbnb issue.  We have received concerns and questions from our stakeholders and we believe that the more information we gather, the more information we get as well, that we would be able to jointly put together the best way forward for Belize.  Our intention is to grow the tourism industry and we want to ensure that what we promote, Belize as a destination, as having a good experience, is the experience that guests and tourists truly get when they arrive in Belize.  So our interest is to ensure that what is offered with Airbnb is of course up to the standard and the level that the destinations offer and we want to ensure too that those who operate via Airbnb are also operating legally within Belize and it is a leveled playing field for those on Airbnb and those on their own reservation systems as well.”

Reporter

“Is B.T.B. receiving concerns from the traditional hoteliers that this Airbnb is starting to, from their perception, affect their business in any kind of way competing directly with them and offering a service that’s cheaper than the prices they have?”

Karen Bevans

“Well it’s mixed views.  I don’t think that anyone could definitely say that Airbnb is the only factor impacting the tourism industry in any way, but there are concerns.  First of all, the hoteliers want to ensure that it’s a leveled playing field as I mentioned earlier and we as B.T.B. want to ensure that as well.  We want to ensure that all operators of accommodations are in compliance with the Hotel and Tourists Accommodation Act.  We want to ensure that our stakeholders are operating legally and we want to ensure that they are collecting the taxes from the guests and submitting those taxes to the B.T.B., and more importantly we want to ensure that minimum accommodation standards are met.”

There will be a similar presentation to be held in San Ignacio on Wednesday.

Channel 5



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