The Government of the Virgin Islands and Airbnb have signed a groundbreaking agreement in the Caribbean that will allow the platform to collect the 12.5 percent Hotel Room Occupancy Tax on behalf of hosts and remit the funds to the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue. It will also create a framework to help promote tourism to this destination, highlighting the cultural and historical heritage of this destination.
Airbnb has been investing in partnerships in the region to support a thriving community of homeowners who are renting their spaces and creating new flows of local economic benefits. Agreements have been signed with several countries and with the Caribbean Tourism Organization policy frameworks for this growing hospitality trend of home sharing. The recent announcement spearheads the company’s efforts in the Caribbean to collect and remit lodging taxes on behalf of hosts, allowing the hosts to comply and pay automatically.
“This is good for our government because it streamlines the collection process and enables more of our citizens to participate in the visitor industry. Our hospitality sector will also greatly benefit from the promotional reach of this multibillion-dollar organization,” Gov. Kenneth Mapp said in a statement.
The agreement with Airbnb is a component of the Mapp-Potter Administration’s Five Year Plan to fully restore economic stability to the V.I. Government through economic growth, increased revenue collection and better resource management. It will help improve and diversify the tourism industry and create unique experiences for and by the locals of St. Croix, St. John and St. Thomas and their visitors.
Airbnb has about 2,000 active listings across the U.S. Virgin Islands and a typical Airbnb host earns USD $7,700 a year. Local authorities also point to the importance of the growth and diversification of tourism to the island as well as the improvement of tax collection for both hosts and government.
“This agreement brings to the table a well-resourced partner to help with our efforts to attract people to our islands,” said Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty.
“This voluntary collection agreement for the hotel room tax provides the bureau with an additional resource to ensure that the tax is collected and remitted in a timely manner. We look forward to pursuing this additional avenue of increasing the tax revenue from Airbnb hosts as they participate in our territory’s tax regime by fulfilling their filing and payment obligations,” said Marvin Pickering, director of the V.I. Bureau of Internal Revenue.