Hong Kong’s hoteliers have united to demand a law that would punish Airbnb users – hosts and guests – and allow authorities to raid flats suspected of being unlicensed holiday rentals.
Under the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance, premises that offer sleeping accommodation for a fee over a period of less than 28 days must be licensed. But many hosts advertising on home-sharing sites were unlikely to have done so, critics said.
Around 5,000 properties in the city – most of which are residential flats – were listed as temporary lodging on Airbnb last year. About 300 were available at a given time, compared with 79,000 hotel rooms on offer.
The city’s hotels have an occupancy rate of close to 90 per cent and this is expected to continue with about 60 million tourists set to visit this year.
Last year the Office of the Licensing Authority carried out 14,416 inspections, and successfully convicted offenders in 129 cases out of 158 prosecutions. Penalties mostly involved fines or a suspended jail sentence, though the maximum punishment is a HK$200,000 (US$25,500) fine and two years’ imprisonment.
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