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Tourism officials want a piece of Airbnb revenues

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Airbnb rentals are unfair competition to hotels, a trade group charges. Photo illustration/Staff

Mérida, Yucatán — Just as the government is attempting to come to grips with app-based car services, the ministry of tourism is now taking a new look at Airbnb rentals.

State officials are talking about a special tax on lodging that is rented through online platforms, including Airbnb and HomeAway, Sipse News reports.

A local trade group, la Cámara Mexicana de Hoteles de Yucatán, has repeatedly complained of unfair competition from private homeowners who list their properties online and pocket all the proceeds.

Over 300 rental homes, villas or apartments in Mérida alone are offered on Airbnb. And there are about 11,000 hotel rooms for rent in the city, with another 1,500 on track by 2021.

Airbnb’s web page advising homeowners on international tax compliance does not mention Mexico. 

Tourism officials are gathering with state tax administration staff to placate the growing hotel industry, which is investing in dozens of new projects meant to complement the new international conference center in the hotel zone.

One possible tax model would be based on Mexico City’s, in which the platform directly pays the government a three percent “Impuesto sobre Hospedaje,” or lodging tax. Airbnb has a “collect and remit” function that automatically takes care of this for landlords in certain tax zones.

This tax will fund Mexico City tourism promotion to the tune of an estimated 40 million pesos yearly.

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