By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Regularisation and taxation of vacation home rentals will help to ‘level the playing field’ for traditional hotel operators, according to Bahamas Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA) president Carlton Russell.
Mr Russell told Tribune Business: “Regularisation efforts, including the application of an appropriate tax regime for these vacation rentals, will help level the playing field for traditional hotel operators in the destination; from boutique hotels located in our family islands where vacation homes are prolific, to the larger properties primarily located in Nassau and Paradise Island.”
He added: “The regularisation of the vacation home rental market will not only help address issues of parity pertaining to cost of product and services, it will also ensure vacation home owners, many of whom live outside this country and benefit from costly destination marketing efforts, contribute to the public purse.”
Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar said last week that legislation is being drawn up to regulate the vacation home rental sector which will include taxing rental income. The Ministry of Tourism has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbnb which requires Airbnb to collect all due taxes and fees associated with Bahamas-based vacation rentals listed on its website, and ensure those landlords are in full compliance with local rules and regulations.
Airbnb is an online marketplace and network which enables homeowners to list/rent short-term stays in their residential properties to tourists, with the cost set by the property owner.
“Bringing vacation homeowners into the regulatory regime will ensure important protocols, such as fire and safety standards currently adhered to by licensed hotel properties, will be enforced, to avoid any issues arising which would damage the reputation of the destination to the detriment of the entire tourism industry,” said Mr Russell.
He noted that the 'sharing" culture is thriving in the travel industry today, with apartment dwellers or vacation home owners using a variety of distribution channels including Airbnb to rent out their vacation homes, unused apartment units or spare bedrooms to travellers seeking alternatives to traditional hotel stays.