Updated short-term rental regulations in Thailand a boon to small, unique operators

The recent announcement in the Royal Gazette regarding the Thai government’s plans to update Ministerial Regulations regarding the operation of short-term rentals (STR) has proved a popular one.

At the end of August, the existing criteria for the definition of ‘non-hotel accommodation’ was changed from a maximum capacity of 20 guests and four rooms to no more than 30 guests and eight rooms.

The revised short-term rentals regulations recognise the value of smaller accommodation providers, say trade players

The amendment acknowledges the unique status and increasing popularity of different types of accommodation, including tents, treehouses and floating homes, alongside traditional hotel and homestay options. The updated legislation is designed to recognise these types of businesses and create a pathway for smaller accommodation providers to be registered.

Mich Goh, Airbnb’s head of public policy for South-east Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan, believes that new rules will be a boon to business and noted the potential knock-on effect for second-city tourism in Thailand.

Goh said: “We (Airbnb) are very pleased to see the Thai government recognising a diverse range of Thai tourism entrepreneurs as part of the country’s reopening efforts. The updated regulation marks a positive step in the right direction, and will help more tourism entrepreneurs and smaller accommodation providers benefit from the global travel rebound.

“They will further help drive travel to secondary destinations and support a more inclusive travel recovery across the country, which we have strongly advocated for in our initiatives with the Ministry of Interior and the Tourism Authority of Thailand.”

Goh also noted how the updated criteria reflect modern travel trends, “In addition to supporting local entrepreneurs, the new regulations also reflect how travellers’ preferences and behaviours have changed. Post-pandemic, travellers are staying longer, exploring more off-the-beaten-path destinations and seeking new travel experiences.”

Manosit Jaengjob, chairman of the Small Hotels Subcommittee, Tourism Council of Thailand, agrees.

“The updated Ministerial Regulations are an important step forward for Thailand’s travel accommodation sector and a much-needed change. While both large and small travel accommodation contribute to the economy, our smaller operators often provide an authentic Thai face and experience for guests,” said Manosit.

Manosit added: “It’s encouraging that the importance of smaller operators has been recognised and that we have more appropriate sector-specific rules. The new regulations will enable more small operators, local communities and families to derive income from Thailand’s tourism and spread the benefits to nearby neighbourhoods.”

However, Udom Srimahachota, vice-president of the Thailand Hotel Association’s western chapter, has sounded the alarm on potential tax evasion stemming from the revised STR regulations.

Udom told the Bangkok Post that the new regulations would exempt more properties from operating under the same rules as registered hotels. Instead of adding value to government coffers, this arrangement could lead to a potential loss of 20 per cent in income for the travel sector.

Citing an example, Udom said registered hotels would have to pay a hefty land and building tax, while non-hotel accommodation operators would get away with a second household rate.

He argued that unscrupulous developers would take advantage of the updated regulations to reduce their tax burden illegally.

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