Published:Saturday | August 3, 2019 | Carlene Davis/Gleaner Writer
As tourists and locals descended upon the Second City in droves last month for the week-long Reggae Sumfest, several small players in the local accommodations sector cashed in offering weary patrons a place to rest their heads.
Those who did bookings through the online service Airbnb received an estimated windfall of $36 million.
With more than 1,800 guest arrivals, Airbnb hosts benefited from a significant increase in bookings for the festival weekend on July 19 and 20, with the likes of reggae superstars Buju Banton, Beres Hammond and Chronixx gracing the stage.
The largest demographic of guests was the 30 to 39 years old category, with an average group size of three persons per booking, staying approximately three nights. Most originated from Kingston, Florida, and New York.
Looking ahead, Airbnb said that it is steadily working to drive tourism in the region and to grow economic opportunity by promoting authentic travel in Jamaica and throughout the Caribbean.
“The home-sharing community in Jamaica continues to thrive as a growing component of the local tourism industry.
“Local hosts are increasingly opening their doors to offer foreigners and locals alike a diverse, inclusive and sustainable travel experience in urban destinations as well as rural areas. This is yet another example of how Airbnb is able to help cities by adding capacity during large events and helping boost tourism,” said Carlos Munoz, Airbnb’s campaign manager, public policy and communications for the Caribbean and Central America.
Havanah Llewellyn, president of the Jamaica Homesharing Association, the body set up by Airbnb to improve the island’s offering to the sector, said he was excited to see the continued growth as no rooms were left empty in Montego Bay over the concert weekend.
“We are extremely excited when we see those numbers coming in, just like when we had Buju in Kingston that was great for us as well. So to see these festivals that are happening, the partnerships with Sumfest and the Government and Airbnb, that is what is going to bring continued growth to the country,” Llewellyn said. “It’s great for the country because all of this is going right back into the economy. With the hotels being full, where would those other guests go? So now we are able to pick up some of that slack and that then spills over into the restaurants and the taxi drivers.
Founded in 2008, Airbnb uniquely leverages technology to economically empower millions of people around the world to unlock and monetise their spaces, passions and talents to become hospitality entrepreneurs. Airbnb’s accommodation marketplace provides access to more than six million unique places to stay in nearly 100,000 cities and 191 countries.