During his weekly address last Friday, Thailand’s Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha expressed his support for short-term lettings, included through website Airbnb.
His backing for Airbnb, which he mentioned by name, and other short-term rental websites appears to be limited to areas outside Bangkok and away from the traditional Thailand tourism hotspots.
He also appeared to be aiming his message more towards Thai owners of homes in the parts of Thailand that currently see less tourism.
During Friday evening’s broadcast, General Prayut admitted that: “Big hotels may not be the answer for tourists nowadays.”
He confirmed the Department of Local Administration (DLA) is working with Airbnb to boost local tourism and bring growth to local destinations.
The DLA conducts its activities within 55 ‘secondary’ provinces throughout Thailand, which do not include the likes of Bangkok, Phuket, Chonburi (Pattaya) and Chiang Mai.
In the strongest endorsement for short-term lets, General Prayuth said: “Thai people and communities are encouraged to let their properties to visitors looking for short stays.”
He confirmed that eligible homes must be located in the areas governed by the local administrative organisation who will be responsible for home inspections, making sure owners can provide safety, cleanliness, food and good experiences for visitors.
He continued: “As for the issue concerning hotel and accommodation laws, the DLA said houses that have no more than four bedrooms and accommodate no more than 20 visitors are not considered hotels.”
“Owners only have to register with the district office. District officers will inspect all houses for qualifications and offer suggestions.”
General Prayuth added: “Our new approach came in the wake of concerns that large hotels will be affected.”
“We must have diversity in our accommodations so that visitors and tourists can choose where they want to stay and how much they want to spend.”
“Those who want to experience superb services can stay at large hotels. Homestays are for visitors who may have lower budget or wish to experience the nature. Homestay business gives tourists an alternative. But most importantly, local people will be part of the business.”
Whether the vast swathe of Thai and foreign-owned condominiums in major cities will eventually be part of this initiative is uncertain, and inclusion would certainly raise legal issues where property developers have specifically banned short-term rentals within their developments.