Airbnb a risky business that impacts tourism industry: HNL

Unregulated accommodations across the province, like highly popular Airbnb, are jeopardizing the success of the province's tourism industry, according to Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.
There are nearly 350 accommodations available in Newfoundland and Labrador through online home-sharing service Airbnb. (Airbnb)

Unregulated accommodations across the province, like highly popular Airbnb, are jeopardizing the success of the province's tourism industry, according to Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador.

Online home-sharing service Airbnb connects travelers with hosts who will rent out their unused spaces to strangers for a nightly price.

However, HNL Chair Rex Avery said using an unregistered business is risky for the renter and the host.

"Airbnb is a business where it's unlicensed, they don't collect taxes, they don't pay taxes, they don't support the economy," Avery told The St. John's Morning Show Monday.

You may pay more but you're proteced, your experience is what you'd expect and there's no hidden surprises.- Rex Avery, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador

Currently, there are 340 rentals available across the province through Airbnb. 

Avery said it also creates an unfair situation in which legitimate hoteliers and bed and breakfast owners, who pay taxes and help stimulate the economy, are up against tough competition. 

"There is a significant risk to our tourism industry if we continue to let this business grow," he said.

Not worth the risk

Avery warns renters that the money may not be worth the risk, a message a Calgary couple could have heeded before their house was destroyed by Airbnb renters who caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage

"A lot of these [hosts] that are renting these places don't understand the liability and risk they take by trying to make a quick dollar," Avery said.

A plan in Quebec to crack down on Airbnb renters by passing a bill to impose fines is the right way to go, according to Avery.

Nova Scotia is also getting ready to rewrite the rules that govern the way accommodations are rented out. 

Avery said the Newfoundland and Labrador government should follow Quebec's footsteps by making moves to fine anyone who attempts to rent out their homes as hotels.

Meanwhile, Avery is urging people to stick with legitimate businesses for their travel plans.

"You may pay more, but you're protected, your experience is what you'd expect and there's no hidden surprses."

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