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Ronel Van Deventer • 1 year ago

Very happy that action is taken. Hope they will also investigate some of the other online booking websites such as trivago and expedia and booking dot com. These sites are causing frustration for local travel agents and tour operators.

Thomas Müller • 1 year ago

Dear Ronel,

I am of the believe that their is nothing to investigate with regards to Online Travel Agents or Meta Search Engines. They are a Travel Agent like any other Travel Agent in this world and they have found a business model which is very successful on a global scale. Simply, their channel is digital instead of retail for example.

The local tour operators could play out many competitive advantages but they just don't seem to leverage on this. They also don't seem to to be keen to change their business model which was working for like the last 15 years while the entire world of travel has changed radically. Instead they prefer to complain and ask for protection. Why?

This can not be successful as we have seen in many other industries already. The record industry simply disappeared while trying to block with all efforts any kind of digital distribution. They lost it all to iTunes, Spotify etc. If they would have taken the opportunity, changed, rushing into digital aggressively and progressively, they could still "own" the market.

The Hospitality and Tourism Industry has gone and will further go through massive paradigm shifts and if you want to sustain your business, you have to be fast, you need to adapt accordingly and change your go to market, business model and the way you approach and gain prospects. But don't waste your time with complaining.

It is a free market and some of your colleagues are very successful in this perspective.

With AirBNB it is a bit different. AirBNB has created a complete new market and a complete new clientele. AirBNB encouraged home owners to rent out their rooms in competition to established hospitality businesses. It is obvious that those private operators have to be compliant with the regulations, getting registered, accredited, pay tax and levy like any other market player.

However, this has not been the case for many of the AirBNB operators and this is what authorities need to make sure. It is not about protectionism but making sure that rules and regulations are equally valid for all market players.

Thomas Mueller | CEO
rainmaker digital

Mark Beard • 1 year ago

So you welcome tourists and short term rental hosts but you want to jail them with beaurocratic red tape???

Thomas Müller • 1 year ago

Dear Mark,

Are you saying that all the 32.000+ registered hospitality establishments like Hotels, Lodges, Guesthouses, Guest farms etc. in South Africa are in a red tape bureaucracy jail?

Don't you think that, when offering accommodation on a commercial basis, and this is what it is if you setup your otherwise empty guest-room to rent out to foreigners on a commercial platform such as AirBnB, those "operators" should also have to stick to law, regulation, tax and levy payments like all of the 32.000+ other establishment? Why would they be different?

Thomas Mueller | CEO
rainmaker digital

Mark Beard • 1 year ago

My mind is just not tracking with l all this talk of AirBnB forcing people out of their homes, not paying taxes in the communities they are doing business, impacting in the hotel trade, yada, yada, yada...

In our case and others of which I am aware... we own and live in the properties in question. We pay property taxes, as well as tax on all our income.

Our guests make purchases, attend events, and eat in restaurants in the area, all the while paying local taxes. These people are helping to support jobs in our communities.

So if you want all moms and pops to drown in beaurocratic red tape and threaten them with arrest for letting out in the short term their spare room as per your example, thus denying them a minuscule share in the ever burgeoning tourism pie, then go ahead, arrest them.

Thomas Müller • 1 year ago

Dear Mark,

Most of the claims you refer to - "forcing people out of their homes" and "not paying taxes in the community" - is based on peoples' opinion and not fact. There is a lot of controversy about AirBNB, just like there is a lot of controversy about Uber, Alibaba and even Apple. They break ground where existing industries have been building foundations for decades, if not centuries. Breaking these foundations causes a lot of backlash from the more controversial individuals and mostly because they are reluctant to embrace change and adapt to these changes. Backlash then causes a ripple effect and in no time someone pulls the first trigger to halt progression (an article titled You Need City Permission Before Using Your Flat as an AirBNB in Cape Town on Business Tech is a good example).

From your response, I'm assuming you are someone who has adapted to change and being from Cape Town, I believe you can relate to Fin24's article dealing with how over half of Capetonians use AirBNB to cover their own bills after the property price rise.

Now to be clear, I too embrace progress and groundbreaking ideas, but there is also a necessity for rules and regulations to apply in each of these cases. You would agree that an Uber driver should have a valid driver's license, roadworthy vehicle and comply to any laws regarding transporting people for money, correct? So why would an AirBNB host not have to comply any laws regarding registration?

You, as an individual, certainly give back to the community (I've read the article in Business Live where your contribution to previously disadvantaged kids is mentioned), but you also have the AirBNB host who through neglecting to register or report all sources of income (see Times Live 2017/11/13) who would literally cost the tourism industry as well as the city, millions.

Since AirBNB recently signed an agreement with the City of Cape Town (see Fin24 2017/10/18), you can rest assured that your side business will continue running smoothly. Namibian AirBNB hosts will not lose out on business if they simply follow the registration regulations mentioned in the article. It is also important to note that AirBNB's agreement with the City of Cape Town came about after backlash from people who don't approve of the AirBNB concept. Further research into the success and implementation of AirBNB in Namibia by the government may very well result in a similar mutually beneficial arrangement.

Thomas Mueller | CEO
rainmaker digital