KUALA LUMPUR (April 24): Airbnb today said any cap on short-term rentals would be the equivalent of putting a cap on Malaysian tourism.

Calling for "fair rules", Airbnb head of public policy for Southeast Asia Mich Goh said, in a statement, caps run contrary to the goal of growing Malaysian tourism, as well as Malaysia Productivity Corp's (MPC) work of reducing red tape and enhancing innovation.

It was commenting on a proposal by the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) to put a cap on short-term rentals, as part of an ongoing consultation by MPC which is considering how best to regulate short-term rentals. The latter has been consulting with the wider industry on its draft regulatory framework.

"A night cap on short-term rentals would limit the number of nights a Malaysian host could share their property in a year," she said, pointing to the drop in the number of visitor arrivals to Malaysia from 25.9 million in 2017 to 25.8 million last year.

"The most important and pressing issue for Malaysian tourism right now is growth. How is Malaysia going to grow and diversify tourism? How is Malaysia going to reach its ambitious tourism targets by 2020?" Goh asked.

"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.

"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.

While caps may be suitable for cities with legacy housing affordability issues, Goh said they are not suitable for Malaysia which needs to grow its tourism and has an oversupply of homes.

Goh noted that Airbnb has worked with governments across Asia and the world to craft fair rules for short-term rentals that helped grow tourism.

"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," she said.

Founded in 2008, the Airbnb community has grown to more than 6 million places to stay in more than 81,000 cities and 191 countries. There have now been more than 500 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings to date. — theedgemarkets.com

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