Airbnb has warned that an amendment Bill aimed at regulating the hospitality industry could potentially ‘disadvantage many South Africans’. A Times Select report says the Tourism Amendment Bill aims to bring ‘short-term rentals’ such as Airbnb under the department of tourism’s authority.

This week, Airbnb made its submission on the proposed law public. In its submission, Airbnb argued that the government should rather reduce regulation for the whole tourism industry than increase regulations to ensure the sector ‘will thrive’.

Airbnb also argued that there did not seem to be a clear point as to what the regulation aimed to achieve.

Regulation is a useful and necessary tool of good policy, but policy comes first. Sadly, the current wording of the draft Bill is very vague and unclear. It indicates the creation of specific regulatory approaches without any explanation of what they are trying to encourage or solve.

It instead encouraged the department to create a tourism policy or strategy first and before creating regulations and laws to support the tourism strategy. Airbnb also warned that too much regulation would damage tourism.

‘A further issue of concern is that short-term home rentals and home sharing are already regulated by municipalities …Thus, through multiple levels of regulation ... the increasing red tape could have the unintended effect of stifling the growth of the tourism industry ...’

It was extremely critical of the idea proposed by the government of ensuring every host was booked the same number of nights.

The submission read: ‘The notion, that because one player had 10 bookings another player also “deserves” 10 bookings, is anti-competitive and detrimental to tourism in the era of online reviews and real-time updates on the quality of services.

Full Times Select report

Draft Tourism Amendment Bill (X-2019)