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More pressure on Airbnb property owners to pay hotel-level taxes

Booking sites grow rapidly while hotel properties continue to build new projects

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Merida, Yucatan — After persuading the state government to assess Airbnb properties a 3 percent lodging tax, the president of the local hotel association wants more.

Héctor Navarrete Medina now says that homeowners who offer their properties on booking sites should pay property taxes at the same rate as hotel owners.

It was not clear exactly how that would impact homeowners, or how receptive state legislators are to the concept. Businesses pay higher tax and utility rates than residential property owners.

He said that vacation-home hosts hurt hotels’ bottom life between 8 and 10 percent. The hosts argue that their target market is different than the hotels’ customers.

Taxing homeowners on Airbnb, HomeAway or VRBO, among others, would bring more resources for tourism promotion.

The hotel industry collected 54 million pesos for tourism promotion in 2018, he said. Revenue from booking platforms totaled 3 million pesos.

The lodging tax, which began in June, is passed directly to renters on the Airbnb platform.

Tens of thousands of searches on Airbnb, the dominant online booking platform, scoured Yucatan’s 4,000 private listings as the hotel industry continues to build new properties.

In the Caribbean and the Yucatan Peninsula, Airbnb hosts earned more than US$266 million in 2017, more than double the previous period, according to Travel Weekly.

With information from Sipse

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