In a significant development, Airbnb, a prominent player in the vacation rentals and tourism sector, has joined hands with the Town and Country Planning Department (PLANMalaysia) to establish a unified set of guidelines for short-term rental accommodation (STRA) across Malaysia. This strategic collaboration marks a crucial step toward ensuring the structured growth of the short-term rental industry in the country.
Director General of PLANMalaysia, Alias Rameli, emphasized the importance of regulating STRA activities in Malaysia, highlighting that the responsibility for this area falls under the purview of the Ministry of Local Government Development (KPKT) and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, and Culture (Motac). PLANMalaysia has taken on the task of crafting a comprehensive planning guideline for STRA, serving as a unified reference for all stakeholders involved in the STRA ecosystem.
The development of these guidelines has involved extensive consultation with a wide range of stakeholders, including federal government agencies, state and local authorities, online travel platforms, hoteliers, and host associations. An online survey conducted between May and June gathered valuable input from the public, industry stakeholders, and building owners. This collaborative approach ensures that the guidelines reflect the diverse perspectives and interests involved in the STRA sector.
Key recommendations outlined by Airbnb for the national STRA guidelines draw upon global best practices and regulations. These recommendations include:
- Default STRA Approval: Permitting STRA activities by default in all strata buildings upon securing a 75% vote through their joint management body or management corporation in compliance with the Strata Management Act 2013.
- Online Registration Portal: Establishing a national-level online registration portal for STRA operators, facilitated by a single intake form. This portal will offer government authorities valuable data on STRA activities, enabling effective oversight and policymaking.
- Exclusion Register: Developing an exclusion register for STRA operators and guests who do not adhere to a universally accepted code of conduct within the industry.
Mich Goh, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy for Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, expressed Airbnb’s commitment to collaborating with PLANMalaysia during the industry consultation process. Goh noted that Malaysia’s proposed STRA guidelines, if approved, would be the first of their kind in Southeast Asia, reflecting the nation’s progressive stance toward embracing technology and innovation in tourism.
Furthermore, Goh highlighted Airbnb’s substantial contributions to Malaysia’s economy, citing a remarkable RM5 billion added to the gross domestic product and the support of nearly 57,000 jobs between March 2022 and March 2023. Goh underscored the vital role STRA plays in offering diverse accommodations to travelers and its significance in providing additional income opportunities to Malaysians through hosting. As such, balanced and effective regulation of the industry is deemed critical for sustainable growth and development.
This collaborative effort between Airbnb and PLANMalaysia represents a promising stride toward establishing a robust framework for short-term rentals in Malaysia, harmonizing diverse interests and fostering responsible growth in the sector.