• Malaysia Budget and Business Hotel Association national president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said the association requests Airbnb, which runs an online marketplace for lodging, not to mislead any party for the benefit and survival of an unregulated or unlicensed business.

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 10): The Malaysia Budget and Business Hotel Association (MyBHA) said it disagrees with and refutes Airbnb Inc's claim that Penang's proposed law on short-term rental accommodation (STRA) may affect, among others, the Malaysian tourism industry and Penang's economic growth as the proposed law will instead show that the country has laws to protect all parties within the tourism sector.

In a statement Wednesday (Aug 10), MyBHA national president Dr Sri Ganesh Michiel said the association requests Airbnb, which runs an online marketplace for lodging, not to mislead any party for the benefit and survival of an unregulated or unlicensed business.

"We do not agree [with] and refute the claim as we know an accommodation through STRA is a business that does not have laws or regulations to regulate the business, and an unlicensed business is an illegal business.

"Well done, we fully support the efforts of the Penang state government in introducing a mechanism to regulate the STRA which will directly help to restore the hotel and tourism industry in Penang. In addition, it will increase the government's taxable income and hotel fees that have been introduced by the state government.

"Enacting a law to regulate STRA and protect the tourism and hotel industry will not make the state (Penang) look less attractive but will show that our country has rules and laws to protect all parties, from consumers or tourists to hoteliers including local travel agencies. Therefore, we also want to call on all state governments to take the initiative to regulate STRA in their respective states," Sri Ganesh said.

MyBHA's statement on Wednesday was in response to news reports that Airbnb wants Penang to reconsider its draft proposal for STRA on concerns the planned law may affect the recovery of the tourism industry and the state's economy.

Last Friday (Aug 5), Bernama, quoting Mich Goh, who is Airbnb public policy head for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan, reported that Airbnb was concerned that the proposed law will make it difficult for Malaysians to generate income through STRA.

On Wednesday, Sri Ganesh said all parties should support a business that is licensed and bound by law and not support any unlicensed or illegal business that will tarnish the image of the hotel and tourism industry.

"We describe this matter (STRA) as a form of a new norm technology colonisation of the hotel and tourism industry, and the enactment of a law in regulating STRA will provide a fair business concept and can ensure that the hotel industry is not colonised using technology without enforcement or regulations from the government.

"Reasonable income and profits will help hoteliers to provide good hospitality and tourism services as well as assist the government to collect higher taxes that can be used to improve the image of the tourism industry," he said.

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