Penang, a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia, has taken a bold step by becoming the first state in Malaysia to impose a ban on short-term holiday rentals, including Airbnb and similar platforms. This move, aimed at tackling issues related to the behavior of tourists, is part of a wider trend seen in various global cities.
Initially announced on May 30, the ban was introduced to address concerns voiced by residents about the conduct of tourists. Mayor Rajendran Antony initially stated that full implementation and enforcement of the ban would begin on March 1, 2024.
The ban specifically applies to private residential properties and excludes certain commercial properties like serviced apartments and office spaces. Short-term guests will only be allowed in commercial properties not covered by the ban.
Commercial property rentals intending to offer short-term stays will need to register with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and adhere to specific guidelines. These guidelines include obtaining approval from 75% of the building’s residents and adhering to maximum stay durations and usage limitations.
While Airbnb emphasized that the ban does not apply to Penang Island, it is important to note that these regulations still impact local tourism by restricting accommodation options and stay durations.
Penang’s move follows a global trend of cities and countries implementing strict regulations on short-term rentals to address issues such as housing shortages and disruptive behavior. Cities like Paris, Barcelona, and Amsterdam have already established stringent policies, and other destinations around the world are exploring similar measures.
As Penang pioneers this approach in Malaysia, the effects on its tourism landscape and the broader conversation around short-term rental regulations remain to be seen.