SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico signed a deal with Airbnb on Thursday under which the company will collect the room tax from hosts on the island and turn the revenue over to the U.S. territory's government, which is mired in a financial crisis.
Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Airbnb will oversee the tax collection starting in August to ensure greater compliance from hosts as well as ease the government's administrative burden. He said hosts across the island have remitted only about 20 percent of the room tax due.
"I would like to thank Airbnb for contributing to the economic development of Puerto Rico," he said.
Officials said the deal will ensure the collection of more than $2 million in taxes for the government, which is struggling with revenue shortages as the island tries to emerge from a 10-year-old recession. The government is trying to restructure a portion of its $73 billion public debt load.
The San Francisco-based Airbnb has over 4,300 hosts and 7,100 listings in Puerto Rico.
More than 250,000 Airbnb guests were reported in Puerto Rico in the past year, an increase of 83 percent from the previous year. That activity generated more than $28 million, with the typical host earning $5,700 a year.
Thursday's announcement is the second such deal that Airbnb has secured in the Caribbean region. It signed the first one with the government of the U.S. Virgin Islands last month.