MARIGOT–The impact of Airbnb, the worldwide online marketplace and hospitality service, has prompted significant concerns from hoteliers in French St. Martin who feel they cannot compete with this new market that does not have the overheads hotels have, and subsequently they fear for the future.
With over 3-million listings, Airbnb enables people to lease or rent short-term lodging including vacation rentals, apartment rentals, homestays, or hotel rooms,
“It takes a part of the accommodation market, but doesn’t do promotion, or pay anything for promotion…we do that,” one hotelier complains. “I’m not saying it’s a bad thing but they should be subjected to the same rules that we have to abide by. If they don’t have rules then I don’t want rules. It’s good to have all this diversity of accommodations, but if we pay to have somebody in a room then they must pay also. If I pay tax they have to pay tax too. That’s all I want.”
He added: “Hotels pay for training staff, we pay for the TV in the room and they pay nothing. With an apartment there are no charges to pay. We can’t offer the prices they offer, especially in low season, because our overheads are too high. It’s a big problem. They are going to kill the hotels.
“Here’s an example, a tourist can rent the apartment of a private person, rents the car of that person, and when they want to eat, they eat in the apartment. This is how it works, especially in Paris. But society can’t work like that. If you buy an apartment just to make a rental business, you are a company like any other, and should pay for the licences etc.”
Hotel Mont Vernon is another example. It used to be 400 rooms with 280 employees but 200 rooms have been turned over to rental units with employees reduced to practically zero.
“The hotel before had control over utilities, cleanliness, inspections, the swimming pool etcetera but now nothing. Only some staff training is paid for which has a lower tax. My question, if every hotel goes this way, how will society work? How is this going to evolve in five years from now?”
Apparently Berlin doesn’t want Airbnb and other cities impose hefty fines on owners using Airbnb.
Soualigapost.com in St. Martin reported on its website that 2,576 accommodations are available to rent through Airbnb on the French side, 34 per cent more than 2016. That compares to the 1,600 available hotel rooms. The French side also hosted 72 per cent more tourists using Airbnb than the year before.