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Hawaii Tourism and WTTC no longer see eye to eye

Hawaii vacation rentals down 37% in November 2020
Hawaii vacation rentals down 37% in November 2020

Hawaii outlawed most short term vacation-rentals. At the same time WTTC comes out with a very different global report supporting what Hawaii is criminalizing.

Forget Hawaii’s anti-tourism policies. Vacation rentals are now outlawed, and criminalized in most incidents in the Aloha State. The taxpayers paid by Hawaii Tourism Authority think vacation rentals will not serve their native Hawaiian, culture, and local communities and are not sustainable.

The undisputed global leader in travel and tourism, the World Travel and Tourism Council, representing the largest travel industry members in the world has a different approach.

They no longer see eye to eye with Hawaii’s tourism leaders when just released a study with the outcome that Short-term rentals support both destinations and local communities.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), today released a study on the positive effect of tourism with short-term rentals.

The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) has launched a new ground-breaking report that outlines recommendations and best practices for jurisdictions to manage short-term rentals – a fast-growing and important segment of the Travel & Tourism sector,” a spokesperson told eTurboNews.

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The report, ’Best practices for short-term rentals’, developed by WTTC with the support of Airbnb, a global platform for short-term rentals, draws from the experiences of cities around the world to offer easy-to-implement best practices for this type of accommodation, which has become a popular choice amongst travelers.

According to the global tourism body, the Travel & Tourism sector’s ability to welcome travelers has increased due in part to the rising popularity of short-term rentals.

The paper suggests short-term rentals have increased the number of accommodations available and helped the spread of visitors to a destination, expanding local community participation in tourism and offering a different and sometimes unique option to travelers.

To help address the increased popularity of these accommodations, the report offers case studies from destinations such as Cape Town, Sydney, and Seattle, amongst others. It includes simple policy recommendations such as data sharing, registration, smart taxation, and long-term community investment approaches to benefit all Travel & Tourism stakeholders and can inform regulation.

Julia Simpson, WTTC President & CEO, said: “As we begin to recover from the ravages of the pandemic, we must focus on building back better in each of our industries.

“The best practices offered in this report will provide governments with key policy recommendations that will both promote tourism in their destinations while supporting those local communities.

“We know travelers are ready to explore the world once again and their return will also help power the world’s much-needed economic recovery.”

Guests are often drawn to short-term rentals for the flexibility and amenities they offer, such as kitchens, office spaces and gardens, and the ability to stay in locations outside of traditional tourist zones. 

According to a survey of guests who stayed in Airbnb listings in 2021, 20% indicated that if their choice of property were not an option, they would have changed their length of stay to ensure they were able to book their preferred property. 

Theo Yedinsky, Airbnb Global Policy Director, said: “Short-term rentals allow everyday people to take part in the tourism economy, and the income earned through hosting is helping many people navigate the impacts of inflation.

“In fact, approximately 35% of Airbnb hosts globally say they host to help cover the rising cost of living. Additionally, short-term rentals help spread visitor spending through communities.

“As travel returns, governments and tourism officials can partner with short-term rental platforms like Airbnb to develop fair, reasonable rules that strengthen destinations, and preserve these economic benefits for communities and local residents.”

Carlos Mercado, Executive Director of Puerto Rico Tourism Company, which commissioned the report said, “Throughout the pandemic, short-term rentals provided a much-needed boost not only to our Travel & Tourism sector but to our economy. 

“The revenue short-term rentals generate is used to fund our marketing efforts which are critical to driving international visitors back to Puerto Rico.” 

According to the report, governments can consider adopting data sharing, registration, smart taxation, and long-term community investment plans to help ensure short-term rentals continue to benefit and support the destination’s community.

The report analyzed a number of popular destinations which have benefitted from implementing balanced rules to address short-term rentals. 

Furthermore, partnering with short-term rental platforms on digital registration and data-sharing agreements, supports compliance by short-term rental operators while providing governments with insights to make decisions on how to manage the industry.

Sydney, Australia has taken steps to regulate short-term rentals, including a digital registration system to achieve consistency across all stakeholders.

Data sharing allows governments to keep track and manage short-term rental activities and helps inform data-driven policy decisions. To support this, Airbnb built its City Portal as a one-stop shop for relevant data governments might require.

Cape Town, South Africa benefitted from this data to form decisions on tourism and housing policy during an affordable housing crisis in 2017.

Governments can also benefit from the economic activity and tax short-term rentals generate for their destinations. In Puerto Rico, the increase in tax revenue has facilitated the funding of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company’s activities.

Lastly, residents can benefit from the extra income earned through hosting. 

French authorities collaborated with Airbnb to ensure the regulatory framework for short-term rentals was simple and proportionate for casual hosts.

About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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