Call for council powers to clamp down on Airbnb abuses backed by city’s hotels

January 16, 2020

Bristol hoteliers have welcomed a motion passed by the city council demanding powers to regulate sector disruptors such as Airbnb due to the threat they pose to established local businesses.

Many hospitality businesses across the UK have suffered a fall-off in trade since the short-term letting craze led by Airbnb took hold. 

But hotels and guest houses in Bristol, which reportedly has the highest density of Airbnb properties in the UK outside of London, are being hit particularly hard.

Smaller, privately owned guest houses in particular are unable to cut their prices to compete.

Now a motion introduced by Labour cabinet member Nicola Beech and backed by Green and Liberal Democrat councillors aimed at regulating the so-called gig economy in the city has brought the issue into wider focus.

Cllr Beech, who has responsibility for spatial planning and city design, said: “We are proud of this youthful city, a playground for new ideas, and it is in this environment that new, disruptive, industries like Airbnb thrive.”

Councillors claimed that Airbnb is also having an impact on housing, pricing many families out and leaving perfectly good premises empty for long periods. This is despite 12,000 people on the council’s housing waiting list, hundreds in temporary accommodation and many more being forced to rent. 

Other companies such as Deliveroo and Uber would be covered by the extra council powers as they are also having a disruptive impact on the city’s economy as a whole, and impacting especially on independent food, drink and taxi businesses.

Bristol Hoteliers Association (BHA) acting chair Raphael Herzog, pictured, said: “Airbnb operators have been having a detrimental impact on Bristol’s hospitality sector for some time now because accommodation has been made available on an uneven playing field.

“BHA members all pay business rates and VAT; Airbnb hosts do not. They are also not required to comply with strict health and safety regulations, fire assessments, and other elements that we have to comply with.

“The BHA has, for some time, been calling on the powers that be in Bristol to consider strategies that will help lessen the impact of businesses like Airbnb, and similar businesses, and we welcome the cross-party support for this motion.

“It’s a reassuring recognition of the significant contribution that hoteliers, restaurant owners and other such businesses make to the local economy.

“This is not a case of us being afraid of competition; this is, by its nature, a very competitive industry. But it’s only right and fair that accommodation providers are all starting from a level playing field.”

The Bristol Hoteliers Association represents 40 major hotels in the city, with around 4,000 rooms. Hotels put £200m into the local economy.


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