Airbnb property owners in the Territory were given assurance by Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie that their business would not be disenfranchised when the room stocks that were destroyed by the hurricanes return.
During his budget presentation on 19 November the Premier pointed out that in 2017 and 2018 while the Territory was grappling with the devastation that hurricanes Irma and Maria wrought to hotels and guesthouses in the Territory, Airbnb properties were picking up the slack.
Therefore now that the major properties are slated to reopen the Premier is assuring the Airbnb properties that they will not suffer any disadvantage: “Our strong entrepreneurial spirit of Virgin Islanders shone in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria as local homeowners opened up their houses to visitors through the Airbnb online service. This provided a lifeline to our tourism industry when major properties were inoperable. The expansion of the hotel stock poses no threat to Airbnb owners since the demand for rooms far exceeds the set targets and the market preferences are diverse. Your Government views Airbnb as a valuable part of our economic landscape, and contributing positively to the economy.”
Days before the budget presentation both His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert and Junior Minister for Tourism Hon. Shereen Flax-Charles made reference to an Airbnb tax that was in the pipeline.
The Governor noted during his Speech from the Throne in the House of Assembly on 14 November “Our Government will introduce the Airbnb Tax legislation…”
While, the Junior Minister was heard during the same sitting of the House endorsing the Governor’s announcement of tax enabling legislation; and stating that she was pleased to hear of the plan. Hon. Flax-Charles announced: “I am again happy that we will be working on legislation – namely the Airbnb tax legislation which will bring funds into the coffers of Government.”
Hon. Flax-Charles also noted that the Territory has quite a few Airbnb properties operating tax free: “We do have around 300 Aibnb properties here in the British Virgin Islands and as such they should be paying taxes as they are accommodation properties.”