President of the Ghana Hotels Association (GHA), Edward Ackah Nyamike, has expressed the need for government and relevant authorities to regulate the Airbnb space in the country.
According to him, as far as the association is concerned, it has no information or idea about the regulation of Airbnb with respect to the accommodation space in the country.
Players in the hospitality industry have made calls to the Ghana Tourism Authority to streamline activities of Airbnb operators, who have been accused of advertising accommodation facilities to customers that do not meet the demand of clients when they arrive at the premises.
Reacting to this, Mr Nyamike stated that there hasn’t been any form of formal complaints from users of the Airbnb services, and that his stance is based on considerations regarding the issues on the ground.
“To begin with, there are security issues when it comes to accommodation, there are safety issues, revenue issues in terms of taxes as well. So, with all these, of course there are regulatory issues, and Airbnb is not captured by any of these, which means that when an international visitor comes to the country and uses the services of Airbnb and something goes wrong, it tarnishes the image of the country.
“It affects our tourism destination campaign, affects our numbers as well and of course, it tarnishes the image of the accommodation industry. The global Airbnb has been in existence since 2008, I don’t know about Ghana, but this is a conversation that has gone on for some time and I think we’ve gotten to a point where we need to deal with it.”Edward Ackah Nyamike
Ensuring fairness within the hospitality industry
Mr Nyamike indicated that he cannot ascertain whether Airbnb operation falls under the Ghana Tourism Authority or rent control. This, he explained, is because there are implications based on where each system controls.
“If it’s under the tourism industry, then it must be treated specifically as an accommodation enterprise. That’s where the regulation about the EPA, FDA, data protection and the Ghana Tourism Authority itself comes in. So, we need to decide where it belongs and apply. If it even goes under rent control, then there are avenue issues there because they are not paying taxes to the government, and this is the time we are all crying about revenue.
“So, we need to sit down and decide where this business belongs and then we deal with it. When they get the clients, they pay something to Airbnb, but what about the country? These are all not captured, and you see that creates competition within the other businesses in the accommodation space. So, we need to address this issue…”Edward Ackah Nyamike
Touching on whether the influx of Airbnb operations in the country will affect the revenues of hotels, Mr Nyamike stated that, the hospitality industry is only concerned with the regulations of the operations. He expressed that there are enough avenues within the sector for Airbnb operations to thrive, but there is the need for them to be formalized.
“What is of concern to us is about the fairness. We are all talking about the development of tourism in the country, and we’ve been contributing our quota through taxes and levies, and this is from monies that we receive from our clients that go into the rates that we charge.
“So, if somebody is receiving revenue and is not paying any form of taxes or levies, [it’s not right]. After all, we need accommodation for the visitors that will be coming into the country, and the minister mentioned at our NEC meeting that he is trying to push for a 100, 000 hotel rooms in ten years. So, it means that there will definitely be need for rooms but not under the circumstances that Airbnb is operating under…”Edward Ackah Nyamike