Selangor Journal
People visiting the Sky Deck tourist attraction at KL Tower in Kuala Lumpur, during the recovery movement control order (RMCO) period, on July 1, 2020. — Picture by BERNAMA

Budget 2021: Airbnb hopes for government to expand Penjana tourism financing

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 — Airbnb which offers over seven million accommodations and tens of thousands of handcrafted activities powered by local hosts, has asked the government to consider expanding the eligibility for the Penjana Tourism Financing facility to its community.

From a recent survey of its Malaysian hosts, only three per cent indicated they received funding through the programme while other hosts were either not eligible or were not aware of the opportunity.

With the upcoming Budget 2021, Airbnb hopes that further consideration in regard to the financing facility will be given to the host community and short-term rental accommodation (STRA) players as contributors to the travel and tourism sector.

Its Public Policy (Southeast Asia) head Mich Goh stressed that the travel and tourism sector has long been a vital part of the nation’s economy and remains one of the heaviest impacted by the outbreak.

She said Airbnb has several proposals for Budget 2021 including targeted extension of moratorium or assistance on the repayment of mortgages on properties utilised for STRA activities until the tourism sector recovers or at least until March 2021.

“A survey of Airbnb hosts in Malaysia revealed that 51 per cent consider hosting their primary occupation, and 13 per cent of Airbnb hosts rely on this income to help them avoid eviction or foreclosure.

“While we acknowledge the efforts by the government in providing targeted moratorium extension beginning Oct 1, only 24 per cent of hosts who participated in Airbnb’s recent survey indicated that they are benefitting from the measure,” she said in a statement.

Airbnb also proposed special incentives to encourage homebuyers to purchase overhang properties for the purpose of carrying out STRA activities with a view to generate long term income to help stimulate economic recovery.

According to the National Property Information Centre’s (NAPIC) Property Market Status Report, Malaysia had 31,661 overhang residential units valued at RM20.03 billion in the first half of 2020.

The vacation rental online marketplace company also recommends for several key incentives dedicated to businesses in the tourism sector under the economic stimulus packages to be extended to STRA hosts (both individuals and SMEs).

It cites the incentives as postponement of tax instalment payments to affected businesses in the tourism sector and the RM1 billion Penjana Tourism Fund (PTF) facility to finance transformation initiatives in the sector.

Airbnb also hopes for a one-off payment of RM600 and personal income tax relief of RM1,000 on expenditure related to domestic tourism until December 2021, and digital vouchers of up to RM100 for Malaysians to utilise when booking for their (domestic tourism) staycations through Airbnb.

“We also request the government to consider extending the one-off cash assistance being provided to e-hailing drivers to Airbnb hosts, further unlocking the potential of the sharing economy within the hospitality sector,” Goh added.

— Bernama




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