By Aabigale McIntosh
The tourism sector in Antigua and Barbuda is taking steps to formalize the Airbnb industry within the country.
This move recognizes the significant role that Airbnb plays in the industry, providing around 1,100 rooms for visitors. These accommodations range from small hotels to private homes rented out by individuals.
However, many of these properties are not officially registered, which results in failure to pay taxes that contribute to the country’s marketing campaigns.
During the pandemic, unregistered accommodations were not allowed for incoming travelers without inspection and approval from health and tourism authorities. But since the pandemic’s conclusion, the number of registered properties has declined.
The CEO of Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority, Colin C. James, highlighted the importance of registering Airbnb properties.
He pointed out that taxes are imposed on guests regardless of whether the property is registered, and it is the property operators’ responsibility to remit them to the Inland Revenue Department. Tax compliance is the primary concern for registration.
While some regions are lobbying to limit Airbnb operations, the ABTA CEO is open to their operation in Antigua and Barbuda.
However, he emphasizes the need for registration, tax contribution, and adherence to the established standards outlined by the Ministry of Tourism.
Currently, there are approximately 500 properties listed on Airbnb in Antigua and Barbuda, but only fewer than 300 of these are registered.
The Ministry has initiated an initiative to encourage these properties to join the formal economy.