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Airbnb recommends extension of tourism incentives to STRA hosts

KUALA LUMPUR (July 7): Airbnb has lauded the Malaysian government for the several key incentives dedicated to businesses in the tourism sector under the economic stimulus packages and proposed that they be extended to short-term rental accommodation (STRA) hosts.

“This is considering the significant role STRA hosts both individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises play in driving Malaysia’s tourism industry,” Airbnb Public Policy (Southeast Asia) head, Mich Goh said in a statement.

She cited the key incentives as postponement of tax instalment payments beginning April 1-Dec 31, 2020; RM1 billion PENJANA Tourism Fund (PTF) facility to finance transformation initiatives in the sector; one-off RM600 payment and personal income tax relief of RM1,000 on domestic tourism-related expenditure until December 2021.

Airbnb also proposed that the digital vouchers of up to RM100 offered to all Malaysians for domestic tourism purposes be enabled for Airbnb bookings.

The online marketplace further recommended that the government extend the moratorium on loan repayments at least until December 2020 as many affected Airbnb hosts rely on booking income to help pay their mortgage.

Goh also said the special incentive allocated to players in the sharing economy, specifically the e-hailing industry, was a welcome plan and that the government should consider extending the one-off cash assistance to Airbnb hosts. 

“Airbnb is committed to supporting the Malaysian government in weathering the health and economic crisis and taking care of its community of Malaysian hosts, many of whom are ordinary individuals and micro hospitality entrepreneurs, and guests,” she said. 

Since the start of the global pandemic, Airbnb has activated its Extenuating Circumstances policy globally, allowing guests and hosts to cancel reservations penalty-free.

Airbnb employees have donated US$1 million from their own pockets to kickstart a Superhost Relief Fund for hosts struggling to make ends meet.

Totalling US$17 million, of which US$9 million was contributed by Airbnb’s founders, the Fund has allowed eligible hosts who are facing financial difficulties to receive grants of US$5,000, according to the home rental platform.

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