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Tourism Department to clamp down on Airbnb hosts

Airbnb has been experiencing some push back in the short-term rental market around the globe.

A week ago, New York banned Airbnb rentals in the city after a new law came into effect, resulting in an uptick of property rentals on the black market.

In Italy, the sentiment remained the same.

According to Bloomberg, Florence had undergone a transformation in recent years as second-home owners increasingly listed properties through short-term rental sites run by operators like Airbnb and Vrbo.

“This decision is an answer to the legitimate cry for help coming from our students, young couples, families in need,” Mayor Dario Nardella told Bloomberg ahead of the vote that approved the measure.

About 15,000 properties in the city are now being rented out primarily to tourists, according to municipal government figures.

Even Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky admitted that the company was fundamentally broken, and that he would be “hoping people fall in love with Airbnb again.”

Property watchdog Inside Airbnb also found that currently, there are more Airbnb sites in Cape Town than in Amsterdam, San Francisco and the city-state of Singapore combined, a sign of short-term holiday rentals in South Africa not being regulated.

But that’s all about to change.

The Department of Tourism earlier in 2019 passed the Tourism Amendment Bill which stated that “short-term home rentals” would be legislated under the Tourism Act.

Fast-forward to 2023 and a new White Paper aims to further regulate small-time Airbnb hosts renting out rooms or garden cottages.

This could see the additional income brought in by these rentals disappear.

What the Tourism Amendment Bill could do is give Minister of Tourism Patricia De Lille more power to determine the “thresholds” regarding short-term home rentals listed on Airbnb and other home-sharing apps.

Online booking platforms like Airbnb could lead to a surplus of unregistered properties on the accommodation market, resulting in the value of formal operators’ properties declining, the Department argued.

Operators claiming to be private homeowners offering rooms for rent that are actually small-to-medium-sized guesthouses will likely be the most affected.

Airbnb appeared not to be too pleased with the amendment, and had issues with the limit on the number of nights a property may be rented, and a registration system that will require inspection of properties before they can be advertised on the booking platform.

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