Hawaii: Mayor Derek S. K. Kawakami has announced a historic memorandum of understanding [MOU] between the County of Kaua’i and global travel platform Expedia Group, the parent company of vacation rental site Vrbo.
The MOU is designed to allow the county to more effectively track and regulate vacation rentals, while protecting the ability of responsible vacation rental operators in Kaua’i County to welcome travelling families.
The historic agreement is the first cooperative agreement between a travel platform and any government entity in Hawaii.
Mayor Kawakami said: “I would like to thank Expedia Group and our Planning Department team, led by director Ka’aina Hull, for working together for nearly a year to clear a path for our visitors and responsible vacation rental owners. Most importantly, this partnership will help the county more effectively enforce our vacation rental laws.”
The agreement will provide responsible vacation rental owners and operators with the ability to advertise on online travel platforms, and in turn, will require the platforms to provide information on vacation rentals to the county.
Expedia Group vice president of government affairs, Amanda Pedigo, said: “Expedia Group thanks Mayor Kawakami and his team for their leadership and collaboration. While this conversation began almost a year ago, the signing comes at a critical time as Kaua’i takes steps towards the safe recovery of its visitor industry.
“Expedia Group is committed to continued collaboration with the Mayor’s office and community stakeholders in the months ahead,” she added.
The MOU outlines important new steps taken by vacation rental platforms, including:
- Creating a mandatory field for displaying the government – issued Tax Map Key number [TMK] of each property. Without a TMK number on the listing, a property will not be allowed on the platform.
- The TMK number will be published on the partner’s publicly facing property listing.
- Any properties already on the platform will have 60 days after implementation to provide a TMK number or will be deactivated.
- New properties will be required to provide their TMK before being able to list on a platform.
- Expedia Group will engage in ongoing communications with the county, providing monthly reports of the TMK numbers of properties on its sites.
As vacation rentals provide value to visitors and to the local communities they serve, tourists are likely to invest their travel money in shopping locally. The agreement will allow responsible vacation rental owners to open their doors and advertise their homes to visitors looking to explore what Kaua’i has to offer.