Possible rental caps “would hinder tourism growth in Malaysia”

Malaysia: Airbnb has said that any cap on short-term accommodation in Malaysia would hinder tourism growth in the country.

The company’s head of public policy for South East Asia, Mich Goh, said a regulatory approach in such a mould would only serve to deter tourists and limit travel innovation.

Goh told Star2.com: “The most important and pressing issue for Malaysian tourism right now is growth. Simply achieving Malaysia’s bold tourism goals is challenging enough without the added burden of unnecessary red tape.

“The fact is a cap on short-term rentals would be a cap on growth,” she added.

Goh’s quotes come in light of Malaysia falling short of targets for tourist arrivals for the past eight consecutive years, despite an overall increase in tourist spending. Last year, however, international tourist arrivals went down by 0.4 per cent to 25.8 million from 25.9 million a year earlier.

Goh was also speaking following the publication of a recent report by StarLifestyle, in which the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC) said it would be submitting a regulatory framework around short-term rental accommodation to the country’s government.

The report included claims that proposed measures would include placing a cap on the legal amount of days for which a host can rent out a property and revising the current laws, as well as seeking approval from the Joint Management Body (JMB) or Management Committee (MC) to implement these changes in strata properties.

Goh said: “Restrictive caps would mean less choice of where to stay for travellers. Less choice means fewer travellers and tourism growth.

“They would also hurt the Malaysian families, small businesses and communities who depend on short-term rentals,” she added.

Airbnb’s head of public policy intimated that restricting allowable rental days would only be suitable in cities which have legacy housing affordability issues. On the other hand, Malaysia has an abundance of vacation rental homes.

According to her, Airbnb has worked with governments across Asia to adopt fair regulations on rental accommodations that seek to drive tourism growth.

Goh said: “Our experience shows that there does not need to be a trade-off between growing tourism and regulating short-term rentals. By getting the balance right, governments can both grow tourism and fairly regulate short-term rentals.”