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Airbnb says willing to work with Davao City government over policy

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DAVAO CITY — Airbnb, Inc. has clarified that it is willing to work with the city government here in addressing concerns on the implementation of regulations for home-sharing listings.

Jake Wilczynski, Airbnb public affairs officer in the Asia Pacific, said in an e-mail sent over the weekend that the US-based company has neither blocked nor have been ignoring messages from the city government, and that it is “ready to work with the CTOO (City Tourism and Operations Office) to address any challenges it may have.”

Mr. Wilczynski sent the statement after CTOO head Regina Rosa B. Tecson told media last week that her office has “no way to contact Airbnb” and that the company has not been replying to the agency’s messages.

“We tried contacting Airbnb establishments here in Davao through their site, that’s when they blocked us eventually,” said Ms. Tecson, adding that her office first sent an e-mail to the main office of the company in December last year.

Mr. Wilczynski said the company is also willing to help the local government draft a policy on how to tax home-sharing entities in the city, adding that it has been partnering with about “400 governments around the world.”

City Councilor Al Ryan S. Alejandre, who has proposed that home-sharing entities be regulated, welcomed the Airbnb statement.

Mr. Alejandre has put forward to the city council that taxes be imposed on property owners that tap these home-sharing applications, noting that at least 400 are listed on Airbnb alone.

He identified other applications such as VRBO (vacation rental by owner), Tripping.com, Flipkey, and Homestay.

Under his proposal, homes that are using these applications must also comply with the city’s Amended Tourism Code standards on accommodations and other city regulations.

These homes, categorized in the code as “self-styled accommodation establishments,” would also be required to apply for business permits as well as submit occupancy reports.

Violators will face a fine of P5,000 or six months in jail, or both depending on the legal court’s discretion. — Carmelito Q. Francisco