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Should AIRBNB BE.Regulated In SA?

Should AIRBNB BE.Regulated In SA?

Marli Meyer

Picture this: you’re going on holiday for a month, so you decide to rent your house out on Airbnb – you make a few extra bucks while you’re away and a family from Sweden has the chance to live in a beautiful South African home for an unbeatable price. You’re ‘ubering’ out your home when it suits you, and while you’re in Italy, you live in a local family’s villa, with the same perks. It’s win-win-win, right?

Welcome to the sharing economy – the world of collaborative consumption where you don’t have to own something to use or experience it. Your friends are doing the same; some are even investing in properties to rent out exclusively on Airbnb because short-term rentals on the platform are so lucrative.

But there’s a flipside: the hotel industry feels Airbnb is threatening their market share. Because Airbnb hosts aren’t being held to the same set of rules or paying the same taxes, it tips the scale in their favour. At the Tourism Indaba in Durban last year, Fedhasa chief executive Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa made this point: ‘We aren’t concerned about competition if we’re all playing on an even field. What concerns us are new industry players who are listed on Airbnb who don’t follow any regulations. Some are not even registered as businesses.’

This issue also caused a stir when houses were being rented out for film shoots, says Beverley Schäfer, a member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament and chairperson of the standing committee on Economic Opportunities, Tourism & Agriculture.

‘Suddenly neighbours were saying: “How come you’re earning R50000 a day? You should be a formal institution – you’re doing corporate business; you should be paying corporate tax.”’

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April 2018

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