By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK
Airbnb may explore online registration forms for its hosts to comply with the recent amendments made to the Tourism Industry Act, which extended registration requirements to homes instead of just to unlicensed hotel operators.
Airbnb South-East Asia public policy head Mich Goh said while the administrative process has not been sorted out yet, Airbnb will remain interested to work with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture to ensure that the process will be done seamlessly and hassle-free for hosts.
“What we’ve done elsewhere in regard to registration is make it as simple as possible, and that could also be exploring things like the online registration process,” she said at the “Powered by Women: The Growth of Malaysia Digital Tourism” panel discussion yesterday.
A statement by Airbnb recently said there is no registration form suitable for Airbnb properties.
In a recent report, Tourism Minister Datuk Mohammadin Ketapi urged unlicensed hotel operators and vacation rental hosts on Airbnb to register with the ministry to avoid legal actions, and that the ministry is also tracking down unregistered operators.
Goh added that Airbnb, Malaysia Productivity Corp and Malaysian Digital Economy Corp are still discussing their next step following the parties’ recent memorandum of understanding (MoU) to build capacity in both homes and experiences throughout the country.
“The programme in Penang, which focused on local tour guides, was very successful,” she said.
The MoU, signed last year, focuses on promoting digital inclusion and the empowerment of local hospitality entrepreneurs, which included training and workshops that would also support female guides to leverage on Airbnb’s platform.
Goh said women hosts in Malaysia earned a combined RM159 million in 2018, with its headcount increased 40% year-on-year.
“In Malaysia, our women community is entrepreneurial and passionate, by using Airbnb as a platform to not only showcase local tourism authentically, but also to achieve greater economic security and independence,” she said.
Local female Airbnb hosts welcomed over 912,000 guests last year while making up almost 50% of all hosts in Malaysia, with each host reporting an average of RM5,793.94 in annual income.
Goh added that the platform may not be able to break down barriers that women face both in the workplace and everyday life, and she hopes more women will take part in Visit Malaysia 2020.
“By creating a seamless online platform to enable offline connections, Airbnb is helping to digitise tourism for a more inclusive, accessible and sustainable way forward,” she said.
Also present at the panel discussion were Kakiseni president and WOMEN: girls founder Low Ngai Yuen, Bike with Elena founder and Airbnb Experience host Elena Shim, as well as Zafigo editor Eliza Thomas.
The panel discussion was centred around women who spoke of safety concerns, cultural sensitivity and familial barriers that are faced by women who may want to participate in the digital tourism ecosystem.
Globally, women hosts on Airbnb have earned nearly US$32 billion (RM130.64 billion) since the company’s founding, and a total of US$12 billion in 2018 alone.
The United World Tourism Organisation has also reported that women make up for over 50% of the workforce in many countries’ tourism sector.