Peer-to-peer rental service Airbnb is growing in popularity in the Cayman Islands. Last year, 340 local Airbnb hosts drew 14,600 guests to the islands. On average, visitors stayed for about six days, according to data released by Airbnb.

In total, 620 places to stay in Cayman were offered on the rental platform. For sharing their home, a typical host in Cayman earned a median income of US$16,500 last year.

“This figure is a sample of how Airbnb allows hosts to become hospitality entrepreneurs by earning extra income, which in many cases allows homeowners to offset expenses and stay in their home,” Airbnb said.

In March 2018, the Cayman Islands signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbnb agreeing to joint marketing, data sharing and regulatory standards for hosts.

At the time, Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell said the agreement was a significant milestone that would help expand Airbnb, bring new rooms online and allow Caymanians to benefit from the growth of the industry. This type of tourism growth would also give visitors the opportunity for meaningful interaction with local people and to experience local culture, he said.

Airbnb equally argued that home sharing democratizes the tourism industry and provides the opportunity for hundreds of Caymanians to share their country with guests from all over the world and benefit directly from it.

The latest figures confirm growth across the board in terms of the number of hosts, accommodations on offer, visitors and revenue. From 2017 to 2018, visitor numbers have increased from 8,600 to 14,800 (72 percent), the number of hosts has grown by 70 to 340, and the number of accommodations jumped from 470 to 620.

Carlos Munoz, Airbnb campaign manager for the Caribbean and Central America, said Airbnb contributed to the development of Cayman’s tourism sector, which showed great potential for growth in 2019.

“Undoubtedly, the Cayman Islands is an important destination in the Caribbean and thanks to Airbnb, and a strong partnership with Tourism Minister Moses Kirkconnell and Director of Tourism Rosa Harris, more and more local travelers, and travelers from the rest of the world, are able to visit the Cayman Islands and travel in an authentic way,” Mr. Munoz said.

“This sustainable way of traveling generates a positive and significant impact within the country and helps to economically empower our Caymanian hosts and their communities.”

Cayman property owners advertising their accommodation on the home sharing platform must be licensed and must pay government a $250 fee. The licensing process involves home inspections by the Department of Environmental Health, the Cayman Islands Fire Service and the Department of Tourism, and can take between 60 and 90 days. Unlicensed Airbnb hosts face fines of $100 per guest per day.

Licensed accommodation providers must also provide a monthly report and pay a tourist accommodation tax of 13 percent of their revenue to government by the 28th day of each month.

Airbnb further reported that Cayman hosts are a diverse group. About 65 percent of hosts are female and most (73 percent) are between the ages of 30 and 59, with an average host age of 48. Meanwhile, the number of Cayman residents who use Airbnb when traveling abroad has also increased, to 9,500 last year, up from 6,000 in 2017.

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