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Alternative lodging subject to health inspections starting Jan. 1

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Hostels such as the one on the Plaza Grande will be subject to new inspections from the state health department. Photo: Hostal Zócalo Mérida

Mérida, Yucatán — Reforms to state sanitation law compel the state health department to inspect hostels, haciendas, timeshares, campgrounds, spare rooms and even shared rooms, starting Jan. 1.

This segment of the hospitality sector has grown quickly in the last year, earning attention from state officials who have already clamped down on Airbnb rentals.

The law establishes “the responsibility of the state to exercise control and sanitary regulation of the establishments and activities referred to in Section ‘B’ of article 7-H of this law, by carrying out the necessary actions that have to prevent risks and damage to the health of the population.”

Hostels and haciendas are grouped with hotels and guest houses under the new regulations. Hostels, the typically funky and bare-bones travel option aimed at young travelers, can have beds in shared dorm-style rooms as low as $7 USD a night, even in the high season and in the heart of the Centro.

Tourism secretary Saúl Ancona Salazar said earlier that alternative lodging has shown dynamic growth. The sector, once serving mainly backpackers arriving by bus, now lures more tourists of a higher economic strata, potential hotel and guesthouse guests.

With hotels rising at a breakneck pace, state officials are under pressure to ensure no hospitality sector is given an unfair advantage. New taxes and compliance regulations affect roughly 900 Airbnb units as well.

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