Real Estate & Legal Topics

Proposal to Tax Online Vacation Rental Sites

The Riviera Maya Hotel Association is planning to ask candidates in the upcoming elections to require taxes be charged when booking vacation rentals using online sites such as Airbnb

This summer, Quintana Roo will hold elections for state government, 11 mayorships, and the local Congress. One topic up for discussion is the regulation of online sites for booking vacation rentals like Airbnb, and the Riviera Maya Hotel Association (RMHA) plans to ask for the candidates running for election on June 5th to provide more regulation of these sites.

Andrea Lotito, Vice President of the Hotel Association, said that, by requesting regulation of vacation rentals, their goal is to provide protection to tourists in addition to regulating practices which they believe create an unfair competitive environment.

Through the proposals to be given to the representatives of the different political parties, the RMHA is requesting that online platforms such as Airbnb be required to pay taxes, as is currently done in the United States. Established hotels in the Riviera Maya send three percent of their earnings to tourism promotion, which also benefits vacation rentals.

“The competition of the “ghost hotel” and the informal hotel is almost 20 percent of the officially registered hotels. In the city of San Francisco, Airbnb charges a local tax that is returned to the city. There is a collaboration”.

She recognized that the growth and use of these sites cannot be stopped, but should be legislated as in other places.

According to Lotito, the issue is greater than just unfair competition. She believes these websites represent a risk to tourists because they don’t follow protocol like providing shelters or other necessary measures in case of an emergency.  

“There is no distinction online between official and unofficial hotels. It is an issue which the future candidates in charge of local and state finance will need to address”, she stated.

Nationally, Playa del Carmen has the highest number of unofficial online hotels with approximately 5,000 listed. If legislation is created and passed, Playa del Carmen will benefit by having more tax revenue.

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