STA - Susah Tempah Airbnb

sta - susah tempah airbnbPhoto:

Remember the proposal to have guidelines for Short-Term Accommodation (STA) in Malaysia?
Airbnb, which many people use - be it for accommodation or for experiences, welcomed the Malaysia Productivity Corporation’s (MPC) Draft Guidelines but requested for more consideration on some of the proposals which stand to impact local families as well as tourism.
Airbnb is, after all, one of the major players in the tourism industry these days.
The recent EMIR Research’s inaugural National Worry Index (NWI) found that 86% of Malaysians are concerned about the cost of basic needs and unaffordable homes, with 76% of Malaysians worried about being in debt just to sustain the cost of living. This is, sadly, a very real and relatable scenario, more so for fresh grads and those in the lower income bracket. STA comes into handy in these instances, as a means for locals to earn side-income and ease living costs.

sta - susah tempah airbnb

Photo: Conde Nast Traveler

Proposals in the Draft Guidelines, especially a restrictive cap on STA rental nights and a rather tedious multi-step registration process, would pose a problem to the many families and business who earn from STA. Simultaneously, the proposed STA night cap does not address the property overhang and oversupply issue in the country.

“Through hosting communities such as the Kuala Lumpur Home Sharing Club, we’ve heard how STA has become an economic lifeline for so many local families. Many hosts were struggling to make their home loan repayments or pay the bills but have managed to tide themselves through by hosting. With reports that more Malaysians are predicted to default on their mortgage in the second half of 2019, it is important that the government does not make it harder for locals to earn extra income and undermine its shared prosperity vision,” said Mich Goh, Head of Public Policy, South East Asia, Airbnb.

Another concern Airbnb is looking at is how the Draft Guidelines may affect Malaysia’s economy negatively and jeopardise the Government’s ambitious 2020 tourism goals - a huge target of 92.8 million local visitors and RM76.9 billion in expenditure. The complicated process suggested would incur more costs and make it even more difficult for locals to become STA hosts as this would simply limit consumer choices and competition, while stifling innovation in the accommodation sector. Pretty scary thought because the main pull of Airbnb now is its affordability and convenience factor.

“If the Government wants to ensure prosperity is shared by all Malaysians - not just those in big cities - it should introduce clear and sensible STA rules. Airbnb has long supported regulation, and we continue to advocate for a regulatory framework that balances the need to share prosperity and address Malaysia’s unique challenges. The foundation of any new framework should be a simple, online and national-level registration system that streamlines processes and encourages the highest levels of compliance. With the right rules, STA and hotels can not only coexist but strive, and give travellers greater choice of experiences and accommodation,” Ms Goh added.

“We’ve worked with hundreds of jurisdictions around the world to introduce rules that work and would encourage the MPC to look at the experience of countries such as Portugal who successfully reformed its rules and reduced red-tape for all parts of the industry with the intention to grow tourism. We look forward to continuing to work closely and collaboratively with the MPC to develop the best regulatory framework for Malaysia,” she also said. 

We sure hope for a positive outcome regarding this issue!

By: Celestine Foo