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Airbnb to collect 4.5% tax for marketing

Rental deal: Jamahl Simmons, the Minister of Tourism and Economic Development (Photoraph by Blaire Simmons)

Holiday home rental site Airbnb will collect a tax on the properties in return for extra marketing, the tourism minister said yesterday.

Jamahl Simmons said Airbnb would collect the 4.5 per cent vacation tax direct from guests when they book an island getaway and forward the cash to the Government.

The money will be used to help promote Bermuda’s tourism industry and will include “destination marketing” on Airbnb to target a bigger audience of potential tourists.

Tourist services in Bermuda will also be highlighted on Airbnb’s Experiences webpage and allow property owners to promote themselves through the site.

Kevin Dallas, chief executive of the Bermuda Tourism Authority, said the link-up was “an exciting opportunity for our hosts and for our island”.

He added: “This is another opportunity where Bermuda’s entrepreneurs can do what we’ve always been good at — making our customers feel comfortable, special, and welcome.”

The new arrangement will start next month.

Carlos Muñoz, a spokesman for Airbnb, said that collection of the tax would not affect property owners’ profits.

He added: “It is much simpler for the guests — no added paperwork and no filings or any additional costs.”

Airbnb’s Experiences page will also vet other tourism services like tours and restaurants before they are added to the website.

Mr Muñoz said: “Airbnb has come to realise that a person’s greatest asset is their time and through Airbnb Experiences we provide a channel through which anyone with a hobby, or a passion, or a special skill or an interest can monetise their time, share it with somebody that may be visiting, and improve the overall experience for that guest in Bermuda.”

Mr Simmons added: “The growth of vacation rentals provides an exciting opportunity to bring back the warmth, hospitality and friendliness that has lured tourists to our shores time and time again.”

He added that the Government planned to monitor the sector for any housing problems that might result because of properties being used for Airbnb rentals.

Mr Simmons said: “I think it’s important to note that we are aware of this and we do not want to displace Bermudians just simply because of an entrepreneur opportunity, but we also recognise that people have choices and want to enter the space.”