The outcome, if any, will be very interesting as the sector is seemingly impossible to regulate, and the current stance verges on impinging on the right of any property owner to allow guests to stay in their abode – notwithstanding that income tax be fully declared and paid.
In a world where people can click to accept terms and conditions and pay online by credit card, online bookings for individually owned accommodations today seem like a legitimate, obvious option. It is also very difficult to see what the Thai government might object to in allowing property owners to rent out their properties at daily rates.
If the issue is income tax, then target that aspect. If the IRS in America can use income tax to bring down Al Capone, there is no excuse for officials for failing to enforce those laws, especially in the internet age where computerised tracking makes enforcement so much easier.
Again, if the issue is construction quality of the abodes and serious concerns such as fire safety and ensuring that tourists will not unknowingly book themselves into a “slum condo”, then regulate those laws. Japan is currently rolling out its “minpaku” policy whereby property owners must register the premises to be rented out, which is indeed inspected for safety as well as aesthetics, and still holds the property owners liable for making sure all guests are registered with immigration, just as all hotels and landlords here in Thailand must do.
Worse, the oddity exists where the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) itself has been heavily promoting tourism to less developed destinations within the country – the same areas that are far less likely to have hotels. Instead, being less developed, such areas are much more likely to have only small venues that are exactly what Airbnb is designed to serve. Funnily enough, the TAT even heavily promotes that tourists enjoy “homestays” in such areas. How’s that for irony?
The only issue at stake that seems obvious is the revenue generated by an entirely new sector, and there’s no doubt the Thai government wants a slice of that pie – and in this day and age that can easily be rectified, and best so with Airbnb’s help.