News: Airbnb Speaks Up About Being Banned in Sabah- Claims Govt Not Taking Care of Its Citizens

Nov 7, 2017

Leasing out a home via Airbnb does not constitute commercial activity as a typical host in Sabah only share their home for 22 nights per year, with their annual average earning at US$1,500 (RM6,340).

“This does not constitute commercial activity, and we know that this supplemental income plays an important role in helping them cover their bills and make ends meet. This is something we’re very proud of, and something we hope to protect for hosts in Sabah, and elsewhere around the world,” said an Airbnb representative.

The Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) has confirmed in October that leasing out properties via Airbnb in Sabah is considered illegal.

The move comes as the government tries to prevent parties from taking advantage of the tourist influx.

“Airbnb is a business, but if an apartment is built as residential property, it cannot be used for commercial purposes,” said Assistant Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming.

The ban is also aimed at protecting the interest of hotels, particularly international hotel chains which play key roles in the development of tourism within the state, said Pang.

“They can help in marketing Sabah. If those branded (hotels) move away due to the mushrooming of illegal accommodation providers, it will affect the reputation of the state.”

An Airbnb operators group, however, believe that the ban undermines the efforts of the Federal Government to promote a shared economy.

“Firstly, Pang said Airbnb operators are not permitted to offer their services at residential lots,” said the group spokesman Datuk Dr Johan Arriffin.

“The Minister needs to clarify why it’s not permitted in residential properties when Federal ministries and DBKL have already declared Airbnb legal subject to regulations.”

“Secondly, the move to ban Airbnb from being offered at residential lots is also to protect the rights of hotel investors, he said. Why protect the hotel investors only? Don’t other people like unemployed youths and retirees have the right to earn a living too in a shared economy promoted by the government?”

Meanwhile, Airbnb revealed that it wants to have “meaningful and productive discussions with authorities in Sabah” and looks forward “to participating in Kota Kinabalu City Hall’s consultation process”.

“We hope to work closely with the relevant stakeholders to develop the right framework to allow home sharing to thrive, to Sabah’s immediate and long-term benefit.”

Notably, Sabah saw 65,000 visitors stay in an Airbnb listing in 2016 alone.


Image sourced from Vulcan Post.


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