Singapore proposes allowing Airbnb-type rentals, with tough conditions

Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority on Monday published proposals for a regulatory framework for private home owners wanting to let out their properties for tourists. (Courtesy Airbnb)
Updated 16 April 2018
0

Singapore proposes allowing Airbnb-type rentals, with tough conditions

SINGAPORE: Singapore on Monday proposed allowing private home owners to rent out their property for short-term stays but with stringent conditions, a move welcomed by home-sharing giant Airbnb.
It came after two Singaporean Airbnb hosts were fined SG$60,000 each this month for letting out apartments without official permission, underscoring the land-scarce city-state’s strict rules on short-term rentals.
The prosecution prompted criticism from the firm, which is a popular and often cheaper alternative to hotels, and authorities decided to examine the issue.
On Monday the government’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) published proposals for a regulatory framework for private home owners wanting to let out their properties for tourists.
Members of the public are invited to provide their feedback until May 31.
The proposal refers to private homes in the city-sate, which are usually gated, high-rise condominiums with strict security policies.
It does not cover the government-subsidized apartments where more than 80 percent of the population in the rich but land-starved country live.
The URA’s proposals included measures to safeguard the security and privacy of private home residents, including a short-term rental cap of 90 days per year and limiting the number of persons renting a unit to six.
A person wanting to rent out his property for short-term accommodation must also get majority support from the other homeowners in a condominium complex, according to the proposal.
Airbnb welcomed the suggestions.
“This public consultation is an important step for the significant number of locals who want to share their homes, and travelers who want a unique and authentic experience when they visit Singapore,” said Mich Goh, head of public policy for Airbnb Singapore.
Christine Li, head of research at real estate firm Cushman and Wakefield Singapore, said the proposed framework is unlikely to have a significant impact on the rental market due to the cap.
“Landlords are still dependent on longer-term tenants who are working and living in Singapore, rather than short-term tourists,” she said in a statement.
In some countries, Airbnb has faced criticism that it worsens housing shortages and squeezes the long-term rental sector.


Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

Updated 21 September 2018
0

Mass tourism threatens Croatia’s ‘Game of Thrones’ town

DUBROVNIK, Croatia: Marc van Bloemen has lived in the old town of Dubrovnik, a Croatian citadel widely praised as the jewel of the Adriatic, for decades, since he was a child. He says it used to be a privilege. Now it’s a nightmare.
Crowds of tourists clog the entrances to the ancient walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as huge cruise ships unload thousands more daily. People bump into each other on the famous limestone-paved Stradun, the pedestrian street lined with medieval churches and palaces, as fans of the popular TV series “Game of Thrones” search for the locations where it was filmed.
Dubrovnik is a prime example of the effects of mass tourism, a global phenomenon in which the increase in people traveling means standout sites — particularly small ones — get overwhelmed by crowds. As the numbers of visitors keeps rising, local authorities are looking for ways to keep the throngs from killing off the town’s charm.
“It’s beyond belief, it’s like living in the middle of Disneyland,” says van Bloemen from his house overlooking the bustling Old Harbor in the shadows of the stone city walls.
On a typical day there are about eight cruise ships visiting this town of 2,500 people, each dumping some 2,000 tourists into the streets. He recalls one day when 13 ships anchored here.
“We feel sorry for ourselves, but also for them (the tourists) because they can’t feel the town anymore because they are knocking into other tourists,” he said. “It’s chaos, the whole thing is chaos.”
The problem is hurting Dubrovnik’s reputation. UNESCO warned last year that the city’s world heritage title was at risk because of the surge in tourist numbers.
The popular Discoverer travel blog recently wrote that a visit to the historic town “is a highlight of any Croatian vacation, but the crowds that pack its narrow streets and passageways don’t make for a quality visitor experience.”
It said that the extra attention the city gets from being a filming location for “Game of Thrones” combines with the cruise ship arrivals to create “a problem of epic proportions.”
It advises travelers to visit other quaint old towns nearby: “Instead of trying to be one of the lucky ones who gets a ticket to Dubrovnik’s sites, try the delightful town of Ohrid in nearby Macedonia.”
In 2017, local authorities announced a “Respect the City” plan that limits the number of tourists from cruise ships to a maximum of 4,000 at any one time during the day. The plan still has to be implemented, however.
“We are aware of the crowds,” said Romana Vlasic, the head of the town’s tourist board.
But while on the one hand she pledged to curb the number of visitors, Vlasic noted with some satisfaction that this season in Dubrovnik “is really good with a slight increase in numbers.” The success of the Croatian national soccer team at this summer’s World Cup, where it reached the final, helped bring new tourists new tourists.
Vlasic said that over 800,000 tourists visited Dubrovnik since the start of the year, a 6 percent increase from the same period last year. Overnight stays were up 4 percent to 3 million.
The cruise ships pay the city harbor docking fees, but the local businesses get very little money from the visitors, who have all-inclusive packages on board the ship and spend very little on local restaurants or shops.
Krunoslav Djuricic, who plays his electric guitar at Pile, one of the two main entrances of Dubrovnik’s walled city, sees the crowds pass by him all day and believes that “mass tourism might not be what we really need.”
The tourists disembarking from the cruise ships have only a few hours to visit the city, meaning they often rush around to see the sites and take selfies to post to social media.
“We have crowds of people who are simply running,” Djuricic says. “Where are these people running to?“