PLP cautious over Airbnb agreement
The PLP have expressed their reservations of the Airbnb online site which gives tourists the chance to book cheap home rentals on the island.
The Bermuda Tourism Authority signed an agreement with Airbnb earlier this week in an effort to reach a wider audience of leisure and group travellers.
While acknowledging the positives, Jamahl Simmons, Shadow Minister of Tourism, said the plan “merits close examination.” “The vacation rental industry is, for the most part, not being driven by the wealthy, elite and privileged,” said Mr Simmons.
“Many are just regular Bermudians trying to make a few dollars in an economy where jobs continue to be lost and the only job growth has been for non-Bermudians. They receive no concessions of note and none seem on the horizon under the OBA.
“The growth and strengthening of this option represents an opportunity to provide a lower cost choice for visitors to our island, widens and diversifies our appeal and provides our visitors with an authentic, 100 per cent Bermudian experience.
“Airbnb, VRBO and RBO are well known to Bermudians and have been utilised by local entrepreneurs almost from their inception, without any need for government involvement. Despite that, we acknowledge the positives that could be generated for Bermuda and hope that our concerns will be allayed.”
Mr Simmons said he had three specific concerns:
1) That Airbnb remain an option for the industry and participation with their services not become mandatory now, or in the future;
2) The regulations suggested by Airbnb not be utilised to drive their competitors out of the local market now, or in the future, and;
3) That the tax burden and regulations will not be too onerous, stifle the growth of this industry and deter Bermudians from entering the market.
“With Bermuda’s history of promoting monopolies as well as over-regulating and over-axing new, competitive and innovative entrepreneurial enterprises, this new arrangement between the BTA and Airbnb merits close examination,” he added.
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