Travel

Hotels in Cyprus pushing for Airbnb legislation

The Cyprus Hotel Association is pressing MPs to pass a bill regulating Airbnb type rentals that has been on the table for nearly a year to combat what hoteliers consider as unfair competition.

CYPRUS PROPERTY NEWS REPROTS: HOTELIERS are pressing for legislation to be introduced that would regulate tourist accommodation booked via sites like Airbnb, as they deem it ‘unfair competition’.

With competition between hotels and Airbnb accommodation in Cyprus on the rise, the Cyprus Hotel Association (CHA) is calling on MPs to pass a bill which has been on the table since May 2018. The proposed legislation tabled by ruling DISY leader Averof Neophytou and EDEK MP Elias Myrianthous want Airbnb-listed accommodation included on a register, subjected to tax, while obligated to undergo health and safety inspections.

Cypriot MPs told the Financial Mirror that they are aware of the urgency of the matter and are “putting the final touches to the legislation before bringing it before the plenary”. The bill is currently being discussed at the House Commerce Committee, with MPs scrutinising the finer details. “An issue raised by fellow MPs who argued that apartments on platforms such as Airbnb, could only be included on an official register if owners have the approval of other residents in the building, has been overcome.

“We have agreed on a formula with which owners of such flats will need the consent of the building’s management committee, before letting them out,” Myrianthous said.

He said the legislation will enable the state to monitor and perform health and safety checks on these types of accommodations, while owners will be subjected to tax. EDEK’s Myrianthous had said in October, that the state is losing revenue that it could receive through licensing rights stressing that some 40,000 properties are not licensed. He noted that there are around 20,000 illegal villas and dwellings, with most owners interested in acquiring a license. According to official data, hotel beds in Cyprus amount to 83,000. It is estimated that one-third of tourists arriving in Cyprus seek accommodation in non-registered units.

Talking to the Financial Mirror, Zacharias Ioannides, director general of the Cyprus Hotel Association said that legislation must go ahead as soon as possible as hotels have made serious investments. According to data provided by the land registry in October, new hotels, refurbishments and expansion projects have multiplied by eight times in the first seven months of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. From January to July 2018, hotel projects covering 83,000 square meters were licensed, compared to just 10,000 sqm in 2017 – the 730% increase also accounts for one-third of the licenses for new building projects.

“Expected investments in the hotel industry include the construction of new hotel units island-wide while existing hotels have increased their bed capacity and upgraded their services,” said Ioannides.

He said that investments in question were made in order to meet demand created by the increase in the number of tourists arriving in Cyprus, however, hoteliers feel that owners of apartments should be on a level playing field. “Hoteliers who have significantly invested in upgrading their product and pay a significant amount of taxes to the state are currently subjected to strict regulations, while Airbnb has been excluded so far from these obligations,” Ioannides told the Financial Mirror. Global trend Acknowledging that accommodation options offered by platforms such as Airbnb and Booking.com are a global trend, Ioannides added that the market should, however, be regulated so as to do away with unfair competition especially at a time when Cyprus tourism is under pressure from rival destinations. He argued that regulating the Airbnb market is also important as it would introduce safety and health checks for accommodation which currently is not obliged to follow any rules. “Currently Airbnb is not subjected to any kind of control, which may endanger the health of tourists, and in turn endanger the good name of Cyprus’ tourism product. A name which the tourist industry on the island has fought for years to build.” Chrisemily Psilogeni, President of the Association of Cyprus Tourist Enterprises said they have been campaigning for the legislation as there will be control over “residencies which are currently operating illegally, without any license and not subject to any checks, causing damage to our tourist product, while depriving income from the Cypriot economy.”

“We are not opposed to modern trends, but we claim legitimacy and defend the rights of hundreds of businesses that have been working for decades under adverse conditions, trying to maintain a high standard in the tourist services,” said Psilogeni.

Meanwhile, Airbnb has the potential to benefit Cyprus tourism says an academic who has been monitoring the platform’s performance in Cyprus. UCLAN lecturer in Innovation and Entrepreneurship Fanos Tekelas said that while the island’s tourism is under pressure from competition from cheaper destinations in the region such as Turkey and Egypt, tourist accommodations promoted on platforms such as Airbnb can attract tourists who prefer to spend more on activities during their holidays rather than on accommodation. “We are not a cheap destination. There are no sponsored packages for tourists heading for Cyprus, while other destinations in the region have cheaper airfares and lower accommodation costs,” explained Tekelas.

Understanding that this type of accommodation is in competition with hotels who have spent millions in renovations and upgrades, Tekelas said that tourists opting for Airbnb accommodation, are not attracted by five-star hotels, but rather are looking to spend their time and money creatively. “On the negative side of things, a number of Airbnb accommodation owners live overseas, and that might not only pose as a tax challenge but also see revenue otherwise set to stay within the country, find its way abroad. The only way to totally do away with tax evasion and loss of revenue is to ban such platforms in Cyprus entirely. That I believe would prove disastrous for our tourism,” said the UCLan lecturer.

Acknowledging that owners of such accommodation have a lot of scope for tax evasion, Tekelas suggested that all such accommodation should be subjected to a yearly license fee, rather than being taxed on the number of tourists accommodated or rooms. According to the Airbnb platform, visitors who used short-term lettings in Cyprus reached 120,000 from 125 different countries in 2017-2018, while this number is expected to rise significantly.

COMMENT

Airbnb has revolutionised the way that people are travelling, finding accommodation and even the type of accommodation the seek. It has never been easier to search for a large property for a large party, or to find a remote Cottage, not to mention the impact it has had on those wishing to make their properties available for rent. Those wishing to spend some or most of their time away from home, are now able to receive an income from their property, without the risks of a longer term tenant.

The competition from Airbnb is also a good thing as it keeps other forms of accommodation, such as Hotels looking over their should and making more effort, which is good for everyone. However, as usual, people at the top of any industry, always want to pull up the ladder and prevent competition, which should not be a reason to introduce legislation.

One factor that could and should be implemented for Airbnb providers is compulsory public liability insurance. As it stands, Airbnb does not enforce this, even if it gets a mention in the Terms and Conditions, it must be MANDATORY, it must be with an ACCREDITED INSURER and it should be produced PRIOR to any bookings being taken.

My year in review

So as 2018 draws to an end, it’s that time of year when we naturally begin to reflect on what he had hoped for, what we had planned and what actually happened. As with all things in life, there is always bad mixed in with the good, and vice versa. We are fortunate to have smartphones with Cameras that take excellent photos and video, but it can all too easily become one big mess of hundreds of clips that end up being uploaded somewhere and forgotten about, or just too many to be practical to ever watch.

That is why I decided to pick out my favourite moments and immortalise them in a short video that highlights my year, and what a year it has been. As always with me, life seems to be a rollercoaster, people come and go, some leave their mark, others leave a trail of disaster, but others remain and stand the test of time. It is these people who have real value in life, sincerity is PRICELESS.

I know first hand how it feels to have people purporting to be friends, but they secretly have an agenda. In fact one such person was working behind the scenes, interfering in my life for a long time before I could actually provide hard evidence to prove it. Imagine a person working on your friends like a Cancer, slowly manipulating them over time, convincing them that a pack of lies is the truth. When I did finally confront them, I lost my friends, because I was angry with what they did and they were angry that I find out (or the methods I used to get evidence) but I’m so glad I uncovered the truth. Sadly in these situations, there is too much collateral damage in the process of uncovering the truth, for there to be any realistic chance of remaining friends, that is very sad.

On a positive note, this year has been a real adventure, with a trip to Amsterdam with my good friend, a trip to Dublin with a group of friends, then a trip to Stockholm for a friend’s birthday as well as several trips to Cyprus. For me, what really matters is quality of life, travel and friends, all the rest is little more than a pipe dream. We are all on borrowed time and we can easily forget that, the only things that have true value are our friends, our feelings and our memories.

Happy New Year 2019

Couple travelling the world

Cole and Dawn are travelling the world, one year at a time. I met them at The Mill Bar, in Peyia, Cyprus. Dawn works behind the bar and Cole was having a drink with a friend. We got talking and they told me they had only been in Cyprus a couple of months. They had moved here from Malta. Cole is from Toronto, Canada and Dawn is from Luton, UK. They spent some time in Canada, then sold up and began to travel. Their plan is to spend a year in each place, taking on any work that is available and then moving on. They had planned to do this for a while, but needed to wait for their children to grow up, before embarking on their dream. As for me, I found the idea of two people travelling the world together amazing. I feel that they are very fortunate to have each other to do this with. Life is very brief and the opportunity to actually experience something like this is wonderful.

I finally got to visit Sweden

On Thursday the 28th July 2018, I finally managed to make a long overdue visit to Stockholm. I have friend who lives there and wanted to go for years, but never made it, but this year it was her 50th birthday and I had the opportunity to visit and spend time with her family and children, which was a pleasure.

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Northampton & Lamport Railway

Located just to the north of Northampton, the Northampton & Lamport Railway is a steam and heritage diesel tourist railway in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside.

With approximately 1½ miles of running track alongside the Brampton Valley Way, a 14-mile linear park from Northampton to Market Harborough, you can not only ride one of their trains along the former line but walk along and watch the steam and diesel engines in action.

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Cyprus Drives Vavatsinia to Agoi Vavatsinia

Leaving Limassol on the road to Nicosia, about half way there is a turning by the Mcdonalds that leads to the village of Lefkara, then goes on to Vavatsinia. After that, the road to Agoi Vavatsinia is a narrow windy road, perfect for a high speed video.

This was taken using a GoPro mounted with a high strength suction mount at the very front of the bonnet, giving an uninterrupted view. I then edited the footage and increased the speed by 400%, creating the exciting an dramatic video.

The Journey from hell!

ON the 1st of March, I was due to fly from Birmingham to Larnaca, but there was snow, so getting to the airport was going to be tricky. I got to the Railway station in Northampton in good time, but the train was cancelled. The next train arrived half an hour later, it pulled away slowly then stopped half a mile out of Northampton for about 20 minutes, then proceeded at about 5MPH.

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The Fucking News – The flight from hell

A satirical account of travel chaos at Birmingham Airport due to the snow.

A trip to Dublin

A flying visit to the beautiful Dublin and a trip round the famous Guinness Storehouse.

A trip to Gorleston, Norfolk

Whilst visiting a friend in Gorleston, I had the opportunity to experience some beautiful scenery, especially the beautiful beaches. I also visite Soutwold, which is a very quaint place with a beautiful Pier.