Airbnb should be council-regulated, argues the chairman of the Bristol Hoteliers Association, which is trying to establish exclusion zones in the city.
“I’m not saying we need to close Airbnb down, I’m only saying it has to be regulated,” said Imran Ali, also general manager of the Radisson Blu Hotel Bristol.
He and the local hotels association are calling on Bristol City Council to level the playing field between Airbnb and hotels, and ensure guest safety, by establishing exclusion zones and licensing hosts.
Ali said the proposals would also provide clearer data on where guests are visiting the city from, how long they are staying and how much they are spending, and emphasised that the group wants to work with Airbnb on this.
He said: “You wouldn’t get into an Uber that wasn’t properly licensed with a driver that didn’t have a driver’s license. Uber is a successful organisation that works hand-in-hand with the economy, and I think Airbnb could do the same and work with us.”
The association has also suggested Airbnb hosts only be allowed to operate where at least 80% of residents are happy for them to do so. Ali has written to Bristol’s mayor, Marvin Rees, and is hoping to sit down with him for a meeting in the next couple of weeks.
“We have seen the whole of Bristol going back in occupancy and we only can safely assume the bleed is going towards Airbnb since they’ve been shouting about the success they’ve been having,” said Ali. “There’s always going to be competition within the hospitality space, we accept that. We are not in any kind of denial. But it has to be a level playing field for everybody.”
A spokesperson for Airbnb described the proposals as “a shameless attempt by a hotel group to protect its profits and smear hosts who spread tourism benefits beyond hotels to local families and communities”.
Airbnb says it is “only helping to grow and diversify tourism”; it said there were 144,000 Airbnb guest arrivals to Bristol last year.
Airbnb also pointed out that it recently partnered with the National Fire Chiefs Council to produce guidance for hosts on fire safety within their listings, a development Ali was pleased to hear.
“The safety and security of a guest is of prime importance, whether they’re staying with an Airbnb or a hotel,” he added.