AiRBnB Confronts Prejudice and Taxation

Airbnb recently circulated “A New Commitment,” among its global hosts, a commitment to rent accommodations without discrimination, regardless of Race, Color, Ethnicity, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Marital Status.

Apparently, renters encountered some issues, reportedly in NY, and as a result “Airbnb’s Nondiscrimination Policy: Our Commitment to Inclusion and Respect,” was born.

They sent it around worldwide; you can check it out at: https://www.airbnb.com/help/article/1405/airbnb-s-nondiscrimination-policy–our-commitment-to-inclusion-and-respect?topic=250. Specific Guidance for Hosts in the United States and European Union is included, also instructions for other areas around the globe, and at the end the policy states: AirBnB will take steps to enforce this policy, up to and including suspending the host from the platform. Which means if you don’t conform, you are out, and 1,360 AiBnB’s hosts in Aruba, will be asked to endorse this policy, when their next new reservation comes in.

Obviously, AiRBnB will have no problems here where we are color-blind, where everyone belongs, where we welcome all guests with equal fanfare.

In reality, the fact that AirBnB asks hosts to sign this new commitment doesn’t mean anything, if hosts do not embrace the concept. In this case Airbnb chose an umbrella measure, one size fits all, instead of tackling and educating the pockets that require the fix, they sent their new policy around to everybody.

Aruba already upholds that policy, so why do they require hosts’ signatures here?

And they are threatening to ditch those who do not sign.

In the Trump era, they are trying to teach love, inclusion, and respect, with threats. But, otherwise it is a cool website, and their representative that signed a Memorandum of Understanding this past Monday on the island explained, that an average local host earns $4,400 a year.

In general I think you have to talk to your people, educate them, and not threaten, especially when you are talking about sharing people’s homes. I am asking myself how can you enforce compliance when you are hosting in private accommodations?!

If a host doesn’t accept kids, or pets, can he be called to the carpet for discrimination against pets and children? Just asking.

The CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority signed the MOU this week at Cas Di Cultura, announcing that a work group with representatives from Finance and the Tax Authority will tackle the regulation of the “Other Accommodation.”

I have been writing since the 90s, about this subject, all those who benefit from tourism should be taxed, so that they participate in the promotion of the island, and all “Other Accommodations,” ARE responsible to pay 9.5% tax +$3/day environmental fee.

I applaud ATA for the partnership agreement between ATA & AirBnB, because in 2015 34% of visitors stayed in the “Other Accommodations,” and in 2016, up to the end of September 27% of visitors chose non-traditional digs. AirBnB reports it booked 13.000 visitors in the past few years, and the Tax Inspector should get cracking.