More than 1,500 people operating AirBnB-style accommodation registered following a clampdown by the Malta Tourism Authority.
Hoteliers have long sounded warnings that AirBnB-style operators were operating without going through the proper channels. They were operating without being taxed and consequently gaining an unfair advantage, Malta Hoteliers and Restaurant Association president Tony Zahra said.
Following insistence by multiple hoteliers, the MTA was calling people up after finding their listings on popular websites such as Booking.com to ask them to register.
“In fact, over the past few months, more than 1,500 people have registered,” Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi told stakeholders.
Authorities were also in talks with AirBnB to request licences from Malta-based operators and exploring ways of requesting AirBnB to collect the contribution on their behalf, he said.
The government would be reviewing the taxation system of those who wished to provide accommodation through their apartments, the Tourism Minister said.
Conceding there was an “issue with registration”, Dr Mizzi said the taxation system would be reviewed to incentivise people to comply.
Non-collective accommodation, including AirBnB properties, were now occupying a similar space as four- or five-star hotels, he said. Over the last quarter there was a double-digit growth in non-collective accommodation, he added, noting the accommodation booking platforms were offering competitive rates.
Growth in non-collective accommodation, such as AirBnB, was outpacing that of hotels, a survey by Deloitte warned yesterday.
The number of people seeking accommodation in hotels was still on the rise, but at a conservative level, the survey found.
Commenting on the figures, Mr Zahra said the association was planning a short- and long-term plan to address the threat of AirBnB and other non-collective accommodation.
“We have to make sure we are offering value for money, but we also have to make sure we continue working hard to remain successful,” he said.
Non-collective accommodation such as AirBnB might start eating into hotels’ profitability, financial advisor Raphael Aloisio warned.
The shift towards non-collective accommodation could also be partly explained by the increase in the number of tourists coming to Malta to stay with a family. As more foreign workers came to Malta, the number of relatives visiting them and not staying at hotels grew as well, the survey found.
The data also showed that while tourist numbers were on the rise, tourist expenditure remained flat in 2018.
The impact of AirBnB has been rapid and substantial. Only a decade after it was launched, it already racked up some 6,800 listings in Malta by 2018. Properties might be listed in various ways, for individual rooms as well as for a whole unit.
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