ST. THOMAS — Airbnb, the largest online marketplace and hospitality service that lets individuals rent their properties or spare rooms to guests, has ranked St. Thomas as the No. 1 Caribbean destination on its platform, with a 600 percent increase in bookings over last year, the Department of Tourism (D.O.T.) announced Saturday.
In its announcement, the sharing economy platform noted tourists are visiting the Caribbean again and bookings are up year over year.
“We have been working diligently to rebuild and revamp our tourism product, and we are encouraged that our efforts to increase overnight visitors to the USVI are bearing fruit. With the return of traditional hotels, resorts and villas – along with the strong growth of sharing platforms – we are pleased with this validation by Airbnb,” said D.O.T. Commissioner Beverly Nicholson-Doty, who thanked all Airbnb hosts for showcasing the warmth and beauty of the territory.
According to the release, the rankings are based on internal Airbnb data as of September 2018, measuring future guest bookings for November 2018 to March 2019 in the Caribbean (destinations with a minimum of 100 guest arrivals) compared to future guest bookings last year for the same time period and with the same parameters.
The commissioner noted as visitors return to the destination in strong numbers, the Department of Tourism was resolved to continue improving the product “to ensure they have the best experience every time they visit the Virgin Islands.”
Since its launch in 2009, Airbnb has grown to more than 5 million listings in 2018. There are over 81,000 cities with Airbnb listings in over 191 countries. To date, the platform has placed over 400 million guests, according to figures found in its website.