KEEPING EVERYONE SAFE: “Hoteliers Urge Airbnb To Immediately Suspend Operations”

Wisma MAH, Ampang (15 February 2020) – A recent circular from the Joint Management Body of a posh serviced residence in the heart of Kuala Lumpur notifying its owners and residents of a confirmed Covid-19 novel coronavirus case involving an Airbnb guest in the condominium revealed a worrying concern long highlighted by the tourism industry. The lack of registration information, guest services and support, emergency preparedness as well as basic standard operating procedures poses critical risks the country’s crisis management, leaving citizens vulnerable to external threats.

While the Ministry of Health and the Government of Malaysia are doing an excellent job in preventing the spread of the Covid-19 novel coronavirus in Malaysia, the lack of regulations on residential properties turned commercial tourist accommodation leaves local residents both young and old vulnerable to the possibility of infection, not just the Covid-19 but also other transmissible diseases.

“The onus of added maintenance such as cleaning and disinfecting of the properties and its common grounds lies on the joint management bodies, at the cost of every owner and resident, which is unfair. Such home-sharing activities not only puts everyone at risk but also hampers the Government’s effort in managing crises,” Kamaruddin added, stressing on the concerns raised especially during times like this.

The industry had long urged the Government to regulate and control home-sharing activities, and the regulatory framework drawn up with the Malaysian Productivity Corporation (MPC) last year is said to be ready but have yet to see adoption by policymakers and regulators.
Hoteliers recently appealed to the Government to immediately put a halt to home-sharing, more specifically Airbnb, arguably the most popular platform used for home-sharing. “We also urge Airbnb to do the right thing and suspend all operations immediately to assist
Governments worldwide in containing the Covid-19 novel coronavirus. Human lives are at stake, please set aside profitability and prioritise on keeping people safe,” said Yap Lip Seng, Chief Executive Officer of MAH. He further added that platforms such as Airbnb must set more stringent host criteria on safety, security and health protection of the local community. Most of these platforms do not even
have a local presence in the locations they are operating on, hence no accountability or social and community sense of responsibility. “The Covid-19 outbreak had taught all of us in the tourism industry a valuable lesson, and we hope home-sharing platforms, hosts and operators (such as Airbnb) can be a responsible stakeholder and deliver their part in ensuring a sustainable tourism industry,” Yap said.
These platforms cannot just issue an apology for incidents in homes turned tourist accommodation and walk away, they must be held responsible and liable for ensuing consequences.


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