By YOURI KEMP
Tribune Business Reporter
Exuma's vacation rental industry must first focus on developing a consistent quality product before it can truly the promote the sector, the island's Chamber of Commerce head argued yesterday.
Pedro Rolle, speaking at the Exuma Business Outlook webinar, said: “Here is the challenge with respect to promoting Airbnbs. We have worked collaboratively with the Chamber and the Ministry of Tourism and, as a matter of fact, the former manager for the tourism office in Exuma he is a director of the Chamber. He and I have been working together.
“The problem we have is, I think, there needs to be more discussion in terms of an association-type thing. People have been advocating for it so we can have more independence - even if it is some assimilation from the Promotion Board.
"It is one thing to say that we have all of these rooms and what have you in Exuma, but there ought to be an entity where people can take a look at the accommodations. A group is going to say that these are the recommended Airbnb facilities, and we can recommend them to you," Mr Rolle added.
“There ought to be somewhere along the line where these places are monitored and inspected. I think that as we go into this new dispensation; as we take a look at how we can empower local entrepreneurs, and how we can help people who could now get the funding to improve their places, I think that is a consideration that we need to continue to have so that we can continue to promote the individual Airbnbs at these facilities that are locally owned.”
Troy Sampson, the Bahamas Development Bank's business development manager, said: “The thing with Airbnb is how do we empower the residents of Exuma where there is a dearth of room accommodations. How do we empower Exumians now to get into that Airbnb space en masse?
“There is a lot of Crown Land available. There are a lot of people that have freehold titled land. How do we put them in a position to turn that into an economic engine to help expand the economy of Exuma?"