Hoteliers want ban on Airbnb-like businesses
Published on: Friday, February 14, 2020
By: David Thien
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KOTA KINABALU: It was reported that Airbnb Inc had suspended for two months their listings in China. 

While coronavirus that the World Health Organisation (WHO) now named as Covid-19 has been a serious epidemic in China, Airbnb China has been suspending check-ins in all of its Beijing listings till March. 

This is specifically to comply with local regulations that are intended to curb the coronavirus outbreak in China.

Airbnb, that’s based out of San Francisco, had said in a statement that its China operation, “would offer refunds to all those were affected, or had to cancel their bookings.  Check-ins from Feb 7-29, have been suspended.”

Airbnb China said the company “has evaluated the situation and has also worked in accordance with guidance from local authorities.” 

In Malaysia, until recently, hoteliers and some condominium unit owners want Airbnb to conduct certain standard of hygiene certifications to global standards on their business listed partners’ premises and to ensure that their guests are healthy and considerate to neighbours. 

Now they want to ban all Airbnb business due to unfair competition and the fear of the Covid19 contagion that has affected 28 countries.

Matta President Datuk Tan Kok Liang highlighted to Daily Express that the Malaysia Budget Hotel Association, Malaysia Association of Hotels, and the Malaysia Hotel Owners Association urged Airbnb if it is a responsible global operator of home sharing in Malaysia to do so here, or to impose stringent requirements to protect or care for all their guests and not just look at profit gain without the burden of owning and maintaining any premises that their guests stay in.

The associations had appealed to the Ministry of Health to give with immediate effect a directive to instruct the public and local government to cease the operation of Airbnb in residential properties across Malaysia before anything bad happens and proper regulations are to be formulated and to be implemented before they are allowed to operate again.

Sabah Hotel Association advisor and past president Christopher Chan had voiced out many times in the past against the proliferation of Airbnb-like internet listings of accommodation to tourists impacting the hotels’ particularly lower budget establishments without being regulated like hotels for safety against fire peril, security, and good image of the state and country.

“The Covid-19 has wiped out the efforts of all the tourism industry players until a medical solution has been formulated to overcome this global contagion,” Chan said here as he congratulates Sabah and all skateholders for achieving the 2019 target of attracting more than four million tourists to visit.

After a joint press conference with national presidents of the Malaysia Association of Hotels, and the Malaysia Hotel Owners Association, president of the Malaysia Budget Hotel Association, Emmy Suraya  Hussein as their resolution spokesperson said: 

“With the current high risks of deaths due to the novel Coronavirus, it is very alarming for all countries to take serious measures to reduce the risk and to protect the public with a highly regulated environment.”

According to her, there was a first case occupant victim of the novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) staying in an Airbnb residential property in Kuala Lumpur among other victims reported hospitalised in Malaysia.

“We hope there will not be more of such cases to ensure that residents or visiting public in residential condominiums across Malaysia that have Airbnb listed properties for rent are not exposed to this virus for an industry that is not regulated in Malaysia.”

“We do not want anyone to be a victim of this Covid-19 including the owners and operators of Airbnb themselves or their family members.”

To the licensing and enforcement authorities, she reminded them: “Learn from the lessons from the past and in this specific case before it is too late. China sacrificed cities and provinces locking them down to protect the rest of the world.”

“We must be brave to take this decision for the welfare of our people in general and not for just a small group.”

“Airbnb accommodation is not operated like hotels where all must comply with certain rules of registration, recording, standard of hygiene, security, tourism industry standards and many more where all sorts of standards of standards must be complied before any licenses can be obtained for hotels to be opened for business.”

“How can individual or even bigger Airbnb operators be allowed to operate in private residential properties without proper regulation or are there bribery or irresponsibility in certain groups of people who are tasked to do their job or to address these issues, but keep pushing the buckets?”

“Apart from this deadly risk, Airbnb in private properties posed serious security risks, abuse of premises for many illegal activities and damaging the socio-economies of the community where especially in Malaysia where the B40 group is mostly employed by the over 5,000 licensed hotels in Malaysia.”

“What Airbnb had created is totally irresponsible besides operating in a not a level playing ground as cost of operation of hotel is high due to many standards or requirements needed, paying minimum wages and many more.”

Hoteliers alleged that the majority of Airbnb operators had never paid any license fees, taxes and security deposits for conducting commercial activities in residential properties, employing mainly foreigners to do the cleaning of their premises.

“How well are they trained? What type of detergent is used? Do they comply with the standards as stipulated by the government authorities that are directly and indirectly involved? Who monitor, if at all, that all the public areas (common property in strata property) are properly cleaned?”

Hoteliers alleged that Airbnb management companies do not own the whole private residential properties; they will not care for the public areas. There must be clear standard operating procedures for all Airbnb operators to compel them to do so, otherwise the bad perception will persist until proven otherwise.

“Airbnb never take effort to collect tourism tax, many other taxes and secure operators to pay any license fees but just taking profit.”

“Therefore, we appeal to the Ministry of Health to issue health directive to the public, all state governments, the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Ministry of Local Government, and Ministry of Economic Development, Ministry of Labour, and Airbnb Inc and others to stop or suspend the Airbnb-like business in Malaysia with immediate effect until proper guidelines and regulated policies are ready for implementation, averting unnecessary risks for our fellow Malaysians and guests from overseas in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020.

In a recent interview, when asked, Tourism Malaysia Senior Director (Domestic & Events Division) Dato’ Dr. Ammar Abd Ghapar told Daily Express that the Malaysian Government is definitely going to regulate the Airbnb-like business in future for the good image of the country.


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