JOHOR BARU: Airbnb operators and unlicensed hotels in Johor that fail to register with the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac) will face stern action, including the possibility of being shut down.
Johor Women Development and Tourism Committee chairman Liow Cai Tung said there are only 120 Airbnb operators registered in Johor presently and all are located in Johor Baru.
Airbnb is an online booking platform that allows people to rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests.
“The process of getting Airbnb operators to register has been rather slow at the initial phase and I believe that the number is a lot higher then what we have in our database now.
“I urge all Airbnb operators and unlicensed hotels to register as soon as possible, before the new regulations are put in place,” she said in a press conference after officiating the Malaysia Budget Hotel Association (MyBHA) Johor Chapter annual general meeting here.
She added that Johor Motac is currently getting support from Johor Tourism Association (JTA) to identify and get these operators to register with the Ministry.
Meanwhile, Johor Chapter MyBHA chairman Lee Yean Fu said he hopes that local councils could work together with the relevant government agencies to take action against illegal hotels.
“It is important for them to be registered and if they are reluctant, stern action, including shutting down their premises should be taken.
“If they are suitable to be a budget hotel, then guide them to be in the industry,” he said.
He added that the fierce competition coming from unregistered hotels and Airbnb accommodation had made it challenging for the hotel industry to survive, with some forced to shut down.
“We had to find ways to cut costs in order to survive and this affected the quality of our services as there is no way for us to upgrade our facilities.
“The hotel industry, especially budget hotels are facing tough competition with the increasing number of unlicensed hotels and Airbnb and we hope that something can be done to address the matter,” he said.
In February, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Mohamaddin Ketapi had urged unlicensed hotel operators and those offering vacation rental services on Airbnb to register with the ministry immediately or risk legal action under the Tourism Industry Act 1992.
“Just like how hotel operators have to register their business, Airbnb also has to go through the same process, which is to register with the ministry and apply for a business licence from the local authorities,” he said.
The Star had previously highlighted calls for the authorities to draw up rules for Airbnb to solve the problems plaguing the tourism industry, particularly those faced by licensed hotel operators.