JOHOR BARU: Tourism industry players in Johor are hoping that the state will follow in Penang’s footsteps by regulating short-term stay (STS) rentals.
Malaysian Association of Hotels Johor chapter chairman Ivan Teo said unregulated STS rentals had affected the industry as the unlicensed accommodation was drawing customers away from legitimate hotels.
“We have raised this issue for years because Johor Baru has many condominiums and apartments which led to the mushrooming of STS rentals in the past few years.
“Such rentals are not subjected to the hotel rating system, nor are they bound by business licensing conditions of local councils and the Companies Commission of Malaysia.
“If the government does not intervene soon, it will continue to impact the industry. Hotels will have no choice but to drop prices to compete with the STS rates, which may lead to operators cutting corners and reducing manpower,” he said when contacted.
Teo said the association’s Johor chapter was supportive of Penang Island City Council’s decision to strictly regulate all forms of STS accommodation at private residential properties on the island.
It was reported that high-rise owners planning to offer such rentals on the island must obtain the approval of their respective joint management bodies or management corporations, where they need to obtain a 75% “yes” vote from other residents at an annual general meeting.
Teo said Johor’s hospitality industry had been calling for a similar move in the state to safeguard the tourism sector and create a level playing field for all accommodation providers.
Malaysia Tourist Guides Association president Jimmy Leong said the country was losing tax money as a result of unregulated service providers such as STS rentals.
“Apart from that, unregulated transportation services are also plaguing Johor’s tourism industry as anyone with a multi-purpose vehicle can advertise their services on social media and ferry people around either within the state or across the border to Singapore.
“Besides regulating such service providers, efforts to educate consumers are equally vital as many prefer to go for unlicensed services due to the competitive pricing but this also puts their safety and health at risk.
“When an accident happens at an STS unit or when a passenger smuggles illegal substances while in the unregulated carpool vehicles, who will be held accountable?
“Let’s not wait for accidents to occur and then point fingers,” he said.
He hopes Penang’s decision to limit unregulated STS lodging can inspire Johor and the whole country to follow suit.
However, Leong said he was also keen to see how the regulation would be implemented, monitored and enforced to ensure accommodation providers adhere to the conditions.