Cancun, Q.R. – For the Cancun hotel industry, Airbnb Inc. has become the Uber of their hospitality market.
Airbnb, the online platform where private homes are offered as vacation rentals, is being compared to Uber public car service, which generates unfair competition.
Máximo García Rocha, vice president of the Asociación de Hoteles de Cancún (Hotel Association of Cancun), says they have already addressed several issues that the online platform has presented in the Cancun hotel industry. The most prevalent issue being a lack of regulation for this type of service where the service does not generate any benefit to the destination because those generating the service do not pay taxes or create jobs.
García Rocha cited information from a judgement made in New York in 2013 where it was deemed illegal for New Yorkers to lease rooms or apartments for less than 29 days. In particular, it was deemed illegal for property owners to rent out homes temporarily — essentially mimicking hotel stays. He also noted that the province of Quebec (Canada) has submitted a bill to curb short-term rentals and went on to add that the hotel industry in Madrid, Barcelona and Amsterdam also worry about the rise of private Airbnb properties.
Before Airbnb, Cancun had begun promoting a bill that would regulate the operation of private condominiums being rented to tourists. The proposal included charging a lodging tax.
Ana Patricia de la Peña, councilor for Tourism in Benito Juarez, said earlier this year that the initiative to regulate private rentals began at the municipal level, but because it is a general law governing the condominium regime, it had to be sent to State Congress to implement the changes in all 11 municipalities of Quintana Roo.
A council meeting approved, “The municipality of Benito Juarez will regulate tourist accommodations carried by condo owners and other forms of real estate, as this activity is negative for the promotion of the resort, and will be recognized regardless of compliance with laws, as it creates unfair competition for those who offer tourist services in accordance with the rule of law.”
García Rocha said they will be watching to see what happens in Cancun and throughout the state, hoping that regulation is approved.
However, Sergio González Rubiera, head of the Asociación Mexicana de Agencias de Viaje (AMAV) en Cancún, sees no reason to consider Airbnb as unfair competition. You cannot close your eyes, he said, to the fact that this application is addressing a market that has existed for a long time and will continue to exist with or without new technologies.
He went on to explain that the segment of the population who rent houses and apartments belong to a very different market in comparison to those who stay at hotels. They “are two different markets that are not contrasting industries,” he said.
Pablo Castro, Expedia’s senior director for Mexico and Central America, says that large wholesale agencies such as Expedia feel that Airbnb is addressing a market that until now, was not being served by the global tourism industry, which has a favorable position in this new type of digital solution.
The executive said the hotel industry will have to react to these new options in a positive way, choosing to improve their methods of competition rather than opposing something that is a growing trend.