Second Home Exchange Network To Be Launched

A local startup is planning the launch of a second-home travel exchange network, billing it as the perfect way for the Ministry of Tourism to diversify its product outside of New Providence and Grand Bahama.

It's a move, say executives at Interval Bahamas, that's set to put extra funds in the government coffers while making use of existing second homes in this market in an effort to lift arrivals.

"It will do a lot for The Bahamas as a whole," Randy Rolle, one of the company's founding partners, told Guardian Business. "It adds to what the Ministry of Tourism is already doing, which is trying to market each island as its own destination."

The program works by attracting current second home owners to put their homes in a vacation bank, to be used when they're not using them. With that network established, Interval Bahamas intends to market available homes to tourists looking for a Bahamas vacation outside of Nassau, Paradise Island and Grand Bahama.

That's a goal that will be facilitated by a company website where interested persons can register their homes for the project and where tourists can likewise chose from the list of available homes.

The project launches in two weeks, said Rolle, adding that the idea would then be officially presented to Tourism officials at that time.

"Now more than ever it's important," he said. So we're partnering up with the Ministry of Tourism, having intentions of branding every Bahamian island separately as a second home destination.

"It will give visitors the opportunity to experience the entire Bahamas and help the smaller individual economies."

Rolle asserts that one of the main benefits of government cooperation is that it provides for better tracking of second homes that are unofficially being used as vacation homes.

It comes as government tries to bring as many as 1,000 second homeowners — now treating their properties like hotels — into compliance with a new law. Earlier in the year, government ushered in amendments to the hotel legislation seeking to regularize private homeowners offering four or more rooms as hotel accommodations.

Currently there's a small Tourism unit charged with assessing properties and collecting payment of hotel guest taxes and other licensing fees. That money has long been mandatory for lodgings operators. As a group those operators have lamented the fact that second-home owners —which could number as many as 2,000 — have not been made to contribute to that tax pool.

Rolle asserts that is something that will change with the launch of his program.

The program is also being offered to current time share holders as well. That's a group that has made little moves in the way of upgrades or exchanges in the last year in the tight economy.

Source: The Nassau Guardian