Airbnb Regulations Continue in Quintana Roo

Tulum Ruins Riviera Maya
Tulum Ruins, Riviera Maya // Photo by gappino/iStock/GettyImagesPlus/GettyImages

Riviera Maya News, a primary news outlet for several popular Mexico beach destinations, including Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and the Riviera Maya, reports that an agreement has been met which will regulate Airbnb in Quintana Roo.

Executives of Airbnb and state authorities are scheduled to sign an agreement that will place tax regulations on Airbnb in the destination—the most popular state among Airbnb’s 73,000 Mexico listings. 6,200 hosts representing more than 10,000 rooms available in the state through Airbnb will be under the effects of the agreement.

The regulation sets a 3 percent state lodging tax on all Airbnb facilities, taking effect on October 1, 2017. Between the 6,000 Airbnb offerings in Riviera Maya, and another 4,000 in Cancun and Isla Mujeres, state authorities report that 270,000 tourists stay in Airbnb locations each year in Quintana Roo, for an average of five nights in groups of three. The new tax anticipates substantial revenue for the state.

This regulation is the second to be implemented in Mexico, after an identical agreement was met in Mexico City last month. The National reports that this new Airbnb levy equals what Mexico City hotels pay in taxes. These tax agreements coincide with a marked increase in tourism to Mexico through June 2016 and May 2017, primarily attributed to a weaker peso encouraging foreign travelers and discouraging locals from travel abroad.

Nathan Blecharczyk, Airbnb’s co-founder and chief strategy officer, told The National: “Home-sharing is very popular there, and the local government is excited about the benefits we can bring.” 

Not all relations between Airbnb and state and municipal officials in major tourist destinations have been as amicable, however. Earlier this month, an ad backed by the Hotel Association of New York City reignited the Airbnb-New York City dispute, claiming that short-term rental services like Airbnb can be used to host terrorists. The 30-second ad notes that Salman Abedi, the bomber behind the attack in Manchester last May, used a short term rental (though not an Airbnb unit) before carrying out his attack.

The Verge notes that Airbnb swiftly denounced the ad as “Scare Tactics—“ also the title of their counter-advertisement they ran across New York City media channels. This back-and-forth is the latest in the feud between Airbnb and New York City, where first city officials aimed to ban short-term rental listings outright. After a subsequent lawsuit from Airbnb, a compromise was met in December 2016, which mandates that Airbnb owners can only host a single property (the one in which they themselves reside).

The battle continues outside of North America as well; also this month, the regional government of the Balearic Islands in Spain, which include Majorca, Ibiza, Menorca and Fomentera, issued a warning to Airbnb and HomeAway hosts to stop renting flats to tourists immediately. Flat owners caught renting their properties to tourists can incur fines up to 40,000 Euros (~47,500 USD), while travel agents and websites caught promoting short-term rental flats face fines up to 400,000 Euros (~475,000 USD). State officials claimed the legislation was implemented to keep the practice from hiking the cost of living for local and seasonal workers.

Some island and beach destinations have achieved a more symbiotic relationship with Airbnb however. Earlier this year, Aruba state officials and the Caribbean Tourism Organization teamed up with Airbnb to share data and studies with state policymakers about the positive impacts of the regional sharing economy and to develop new ways to broaden tourism benefits and provide authentic cultural experiences to visitors. This partnership accompanies normal tax regulations. Airbnb has even gone so far as to make an entire private island available for rental, just off the coast of Belize.

In the wake of the agreements made in Mexico City and Quintana Roo, Airbnb is expected to arrive at similar negotiations in Jalisco, Baja California and Nuevo Leon, according to the Riviera Maya News report. To this date, Airbnb has signed 300 regulatory tax collection agreements worldwide.

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