Backpackers Association Sees Airbnb as Positive Platform
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KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Backpackers Association regards Airbnb, an online marketplace and hospitality service, as a positive platform that offers more accommodation choices to travellers.
Association president Richie Lee said he hoped that regulations could be enforced to ensure a healthy competition among accommodation operators.
He said members should adapt to lifestyle changes as people were becoming more Internet-savvy.
"Whether Airbnb is legal or illegal, operators have to embrace changes by offering more innovative and creative accommodation to attract customers.
"For example, they can have an eco-friendly concept or offer spa services.â€
Lee said backpackers included professionals who were looking for the experience of mixing with locals.
He said backpacker hostels would usually have a common area for guests to meet and learn from one another.
"People have the misconception that travellers check in at backpackers' hostels because of the cheap accommodation.
"The backpackers actually want to enjoy the simplicity of life and they do not mind taking long-distance bus rides from one place to another.â€
Lee said although anyone, including association members, could list his or her accommodation on Airbnb, he hoped that the authorities would look into regulations such as those on safety and taxation so that accommodation operators and property owners could compete fairly.
He said association members had spent at least RM300,000 on the rental and renovation of their accommodation and this excluded expenditure on wages, trading licences and other safety features.
It was reported that the state government had stood firm on the decision it was illegal for Sabah residents to lease their properties through Airbnb and that discussion were ongoing to fine-tune regulations related to Airbnb.