Destinations

Prague cracks down on Airbnb to avoid becoming a “ghost city”

Prague has taken the next step in its crusade against home-sharing platforms like Airbnb, approving a swathe of legislation to police short-term rentals.

The Czech capital, which sees almost eight million visitors each year, roughly six times its population, has given the green light to a plan that calls for legislative changes allowing local authorities to keep a closer eye on home-sharing platforms, according to the New Zealand Herald.

The changes include restrictions on short leases, a crackdown on tax collection and forcing platforms to share more details about its users and their bookings. The changes could be pushed through parliament as early as this year.

The city’s mayor, Zdeněk Hřib, told The Observer the push against the platforms was to give Prague back to the People of Prague. He said the platforms are turning the city into a “disturbing hotel”.

“In the past, you could limit the amount of tourists in the city simply by approving a certain number of hotels of certain capacity during the process of building permits,” said Hřib.

“Now in Prague, there is no possibility for the city to limit the accommodation capacity for tourists. The numbers are really critical.”

This comes after the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) informed Airbnb it would seize its user’s financial data to crack down on tax avoidance.

Last year, Tourism Accommodation Australia’s (TAA) national CEO, Michael Johnson, stressed the need for a “level playing field” at the 2019 Hotel Investment Conference Australia New Zealand Zealand (HICAP ANZ).

“No one has an issue with genuine home-sharing – mum and dad letting out a spare room, or their house while they are overseas on holiday – what we do have a problem with is the sudden rise of the ‘quasi-hotel’ across our suburbs,” he said.

“Commercial operators should not be able to use online platforms to offer un-hosted properties year-round outside the existing regulatory framework.

“It’s an unfair advantage – according to inside Airbnb data, nationwide about 55 per cent of all listings are by commercial operators.”

Featured image source: iStock.com/RossHelen.

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