The Sandpiper Inn, Abaco, owned by Dr Keenan Carroll.
By Natario McKenzie
Tribune Business Reporter
AIRBNB has become a "proverbial pain in the butt" for boutique resort operators, the Bahamas Out Island Promotion Board's (BOIPB) president said yesterday.
Dr Keenan Larry Carroll, owner of the Sandpiper Inn, said: "Airbnb is a vexing problem that we in the hotel business are trying to address. It's all well and good when the smaller individuals have a room that they can rent and Airbnb says it can rent it for them. The good thing is they can get some income on the side. If you extrapolate that to the max you have foreign second home owners who are building five and six homes in a settlement and setting them up as Airbnbs. If a guy has four four bedroom homes that's 16 rooms. I have a seven bedroom boutique hotel; he has already outclassed me by 100 percent. He has no staff, doesn't have to go through any inspections or certifications, and no inspections for insurance. All of these things go untouched yet my boutique has to meet the fire code etc."
Dr Carroll was speaking at a press conference to announce the 16th annual Abaco Business Outlook, slated for September 5.
He continued: "Airbnb is a proverbial pain. It's not only in The Bahamas but it's around the world. Airbnb gets a commission off your room. If they say your commission is 20 percent then from your $100 room, $20 goes to Airbnb. They don't guarantee anything, aren't liable for anything and everyone is laughing all the way to the bank except we, the people in The Bahamas."
During the 2019/2020 budget communication back in May, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter noted the growth in the vacation home rental market has attracted the government's attention for several reasons.
All online marketplaces that advertise and facilitate vacation rentals in The Bahamas will now be required to pay VAT on their rental and related sales in The Bahamas. Thus, companies such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and all such marketplaces with short-term rentals in The Bahamas will be required to pay VAT.
Edwin Mulford, a long-time Cat Island boutique resort operator, has argued however that requiring online marketplaces to pay VAT on their rentals and related sales may only capture half the bookings that involve The Bahamas.