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Malaysian hoteliers have urged home-sharing platforms to halt its operation in light of the spread of Covid-19. - NSTP/SALHANI IBRAHIM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian hoteliers have urged home-sharing platforms to halt its operation in light of the spread of Covid-19.

Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) chief executive officer Yap Lip Seng said hoteliers had recently appealed to the government to immediately put a halt to home-sharing, more specifically Airbnb, arguably the most popular platform used for home-sharing.

“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 (MPC) last year is said to be ready, but it has yet to see adoption by policymakers and regulators.

“We also urge Airbnb to do the right thing and suspend all operations immediately to assist governments worldwide in containing Covid-19. Human lives are at stake, please set aside profitability and prioritise keeping people safe,” said Yap in a statement today.

He further said that platforms such as Airbnb must set more stringent host criteria on safety, security and health protection of the local community.

“Most of these platforms do not even have a local presence in the locations where they operate, 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 (such as Airbnb) can be responsible stakeholders and deliver their part in ensuring a sustainable tourism industry.

“These platforms cannot just issue an apology for incidents in homes turned into tourist accommodation and walk away. They must be held responsible and liable for ensuing consequences.”

MAH said a recent circular issued by the Joint Management Body of a posh serviced residence in the capital, which notified its owners and residents of a confirmed Covid-19 case involving an Airbnb guest, revealed a concern which has been highlighted by the tourism industry for quite some time.

Yap said these worrying concerns included a lack of registration information, guest services and support, emergency preparedness as well as basic standard operating procedures, which pose risks to the country’s crisis management.

Such cases left citizens to become vulnerable to external threats, he said.

Meanwhile, MAH president Kamaruddin Baharin said the lack of regulations on residential properties-turned-commercial tourist accommodation had caused the people to become vulnerable to the possibility of infection.

“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 procedure whatsoever is as risky as operating an international airport.

“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.”

Kamaruddin praised the government and Health Ministry’s response in handling the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

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