By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
Vacation home rentals are the “perfect opportunity” for Bahamians to gain tourism sector ownership but must be taxed and regulated, a senior industry official believes.
Kerry Fountain, the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board’s (BOIPB) executive director, told Tribune Business: “Airbnb is here today because of consumer demand and it’s not going away. The second home rental business provides an opportunity for Bahamians to have ownership in the tourism business, not as a taxi drivers, maids or as a restaurant owner but technically as an accommodation provider.
“From where we sit at the BOIPB we feel it’s a bit unfair at this time because they are operating a business and should have to pay a business licence. They need to be paying something back. You have to contribute to the overall promotion of the country.
“In addition to a business license being required and paying VAT, we feel the industry has to be regulated. We’re seeing Airbnb do that today. We have to think outside the box in as far as regulations concerned with the second home market.”
Turning to the performance of Family Island resorts, Mr Fountain told Tribune Business: “Signs for the first quarter and second quarter of 2019 are very positive. We’re starting to get more lift to islands that didn’t have it already.
“Cat Island has been a very positive story for us. We were experiencing some inconsistency and unreliable service. Western Air back in December started service into New Bight. Silver Airways’ service from Fort Lauderdale to Cat Island had to be delayed, but it is anticipated that service will be launched on May 1.
“In the southern Bahamas we still have issues. San Salvador, Acklins, Crooked Island and Long Island. They are still struggling. We continue to try and address it. It’s a challenge and it’s frustrating.”