In a preliminary analysis of ongoing research into the capacity of the Private / Individual Rental market, the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA) has concluded that, at a minimum, country St. Maarten hosts 1,301 short term rental units, consisting of 3,357 rooms. As a comparison, country St. Maarten has 3,368 hotel units with 4,262 rooms.
The rapidly growing use of AirBnB, VRBO, Home & Away and private home individual rentals, have brought both opportunities and challenges to destinations worldwide. Over the past months, SHTA conducted a research in an attempt to assess the scope and size of the industry. Research has been conducted amongst listings on the various rental sites and other Private/Individual rental websites. Thus far, the researchers have been able to identify 468 villas on the Dutch side (consisting of 1,779 rooms), 118 rooms or studios (consisting of 152 rooms), and 715 condos and apartments (consisting of 1,426 rooms).
The short-term rental market is highly dynamic – daily the listings change with new units being added and some others being withdrawn. This is why in both cases the counts are a minimum assessment and the association expects the number to continue changing on a regular basis. This growth expectation is further supported by the fact that various private/individual vacation properties are not listed on public platforms. Detailed work was performed to ensure duplicity of properties listed was avoided and accounted for only once.
As its beginnings as a tourism destination, St. Maarten boasted many villas and condos for rent. The exact amount has not been assessed recently. The research by SHTA aims to get a full grasp of both the lodging opportunities provided for operators and the opportunities for potential increase in airlift. It is the conviction of the SHTA that by understanding this growing tourism segment better, it will allow for targeted marketing and facilitation.
SHTA is urging Government to address potential gaps in taxation and other areas of registration to ensure a level playing field, between established and registered accommodation businesses and those that are not. As shown by the figures this is a significant market that could significantly broaden the taxpayer base by providing more tax revenue via Room Tax, Profit Tax or Wage Tax. Even embarking on an education project for homeowners would help improve compliance in this sector. The SHTA has learnt the Minister of Finance started a dialogue with AirBnB. The association supports the efforts of the Minister to cooperate with the site as one of the world’s key short term vacation rental platforms.