Airbnb has negotiated a ‘partnership’ with the Thai government.
The “Empowering Local Tourism Entrepreneurs’” partnership with Thailand’s Department of Local Administration (DOLA) appears to give the green light to hosts using the company’s website.
Research collated from Airbnb by research website airdna.co highlighted that Airbnb hosts in Bangkok can obtain an average of THB 1,540 per night, with occupancy rates found to be 51 percent.
For Bangkok, the research website looked at 14.528 active rentals, and also revealed that 68 percent of what it defines as ‘professional hosts’ have multiple listings on the website.
A statement to launch the Airbnb partnership, which is not unlike deals that Airbnb has agreed with authorities around the world, said:
“Through the Airbnb partnership, the Ministry of Interior’s DOLA will work together to train local provincial officials on hospitality, hosting and compliance standards; and onboard existing homestays onto Airbnb’s global platform.”
The AIrbnb partnership will see training sessions including sharing information about Airbnb and how to use the platform to distribute tourism income to local communities across Thailand.
It is not clear whether the partnership will involve data sharing to enable the Royal Thai Government to collect taxes from Airbnb users.
Currently users should be paying tax at the assessed rate of 12.5 percent per year whether their property is rented or not.
Thai Immigration also needs to be notified within 24-hours of a foreign visitor staying at a property.
Mich Goh, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, said, “This is an exciting step forward for our community here in Thailand and a nod to the positive benefits that Airbnb is bringing to local tourism.”
What is also unclear with the announcement of this partnership is the compliance of Airbnb under Thailand’s current Hotel Act.
Current law states that accommodation owners with five or more rooms rented daily must be registered as hotels, and the property needs to comply with what are strict building regulations. (Please see the first comment below regarding the requirement to register as a hotel in Thailand).
As we reported earlier this year, two condo owners in Hua Hin were found guilty of a breach of the Hotel Act by renting their properties on short-term rents.
Since no public information has been made available as to the exact charges and scenario in Hua Hin, and legal precedent in Thailand does not exist, the fact that these two owners were found guilty cannot be used in a court in Thailand to prosecute others.
One of many questions that remain unanswered is what happens to owners who have four rental units for short-term lets on Airbnb?
They do not need to apply for a Hotel License, and this partnership with the Thai government would seem to acknowledge Airbnb is here and is not going anywhere.