Malaysian hoteliers cry for halt on home-sharing amid Covid-19 fears

The Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) has appealed to the government to immediately put a stop to home-sharing so as to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.

MAH CEO Yap Lip Seng said in a statement: “Human lives are at stake, please set aside profitability and prioritise on keeping people safe.”

Malaysian hoteliers call on Airbnb to halt operations to prevent the spread of coronavirus

Stressing the weaknesses of home-sharing platforms, Yap said: “Most of these platforms do not even have a local presence in the (destinations) they operate in, hence there is no accountability, or social and community sense of responsibility. The Covid-19 outbreak had taught all of us in the tourism industry a valuable lesson, and we hope home-sharing platforms, hosts and operators can be a responsible stakeholder and do their part in ensuring a sustainable tourism industry.”

The call to the government to suspend the operations of Airbnb and other home-sharing platforms was in response to a recent circular issued by the joint management body of a posh serviced residence in Kuala Lumpur, notifying its owners and residents of a confirmed Covid-19 case involving an Airbnb guest.

Yap shared: “It revealed a worrying concern long highlighted by the tourism industry. The lack of registration information, guest services and support, emergency preparedness as well as basic standard operating procedures poses critical risks to the country’s crisis management, leaving citizens vulnerable to external threats.”

MAH president Kamaruddin Baharin said that the lack of regulations on these home-sharing properties leaves local residents at risk of infection from not just Covid-19, but also other transmissible diseases.

“The idea of having strangers from all over the world moving in and out of homes every other day without any standard operating procedures whatsoever is as risky as operating an international airport,” said Kamaruddin.

He added: “The onus of added maintenance such as cleaning and disinfecting of the properties and its common grounds lies on the joint management bodies, at the cost of every owner and resident, which is unfair. Such home-sharing activities not only puts everyone at risk but also hampers the government’s effort in managing crises.”

The industry had long urged the government to regulate and control home-sharing activities, and the regulatory framework drawn up with the Malaysian Productivity Corporation last year is said to be ready but have yet to see adoption by policymakers and regulators.

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