Regional News

New rule for Airbnb would formalize the company in Colombia

By Silvia Castro Betancourt 0 Comments NEWS, Regional News

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

This decree, which is still in the comments phase, would allow users to obtain the registration of tourism for people who rent their rooms or homes, allowing the use of platforms such as Airbnb as an economic activity would be formalized.

Colombia could enter a new era of hospitality and tourism, with a regulation that would fit the technological advances that have been achieved in the world in this sector: last Wednesday, during a press conference, the minister of Commerce, María Lorena Gutiérrez, reported that it is regulating "the tourist accommodation: those people who rent a room in their home can register and be formal in this provision of services, in the National Registry of Tourism (RNT), without that means that they have to take out a mercantile registry, that is, that they are not a company ".

The official added that this decree will be for comments from the sector, but stresses that it will help formalize tourist accommodation when they are not commercial.

It is not just any advertisement, it would be one of the main regulatory contributions to the phenomenon of the collaborative economy that the sector has been living for several years: platforms such as Airbnb and Booking have given ordinary people the opportunity to take advantage of them. their rooms or empty houses to offer tourists cheap accommodation. And if the decree is approved, this whole community could migrate to a legal activity.

The process that should be carried out by people interested in formalizing, that is, taking out the tourism registry, is relatively simple, since it can be done in the Chambers of Commerce. The procedure has no cost, but a tax of a departmental nature must be paid (which can cost between $ 37,780 and $ 75,650).

According to the Ministry of Commerce, upon fulfilling this requirement (registering with the National Registry of Tourism) may be beneficiaries of the tax and tax incentives established in their favor: access to credit lines specialized in tourism and tax exemption for income from of ecotourism services provided within the national territory, among others.

But they must also comply with some obligations: adjust their advertising guidelines to the services offered, especially in terms of prices, quality and service coverage; comply with the regulations on environmental conservation; comply with the contribution of the parafiscal contribution corresponding to the tourism tax collected through (Fontur).

Also, a key issue was that the Directorate of National Taxes and Customs (DIAN) reported a week ago that technology platforms such as Netflix and Airbnb will pay VAT of 19% since July of this year. However, the director of the entity, Santiago Rojas, explained that this does not mean that these portals are being legalized in Colombia, but that it is a tax issue.

All these changes are a sensitive issue within the sector, as the Hotel and Tourism Association of Colombia has been reiterative in denouncing the impact of informality for the sector, denouncing that in cities such as Santa Marta and Bogotá it is estimated that there are more than 6,000 illegal accommodations. A situation that is especially painful for a sector that has been stagnating: according to the DANE, in 2017 the real income of hotels did not grow compared to those registered one year ago (2016). In addition, hotel occupancy reached 56.3%, that is, only 0.6 percentage points more than in 2016.

So if the decree is approved, this sector could suddenly go from facing a phenomenon of informality to an equally strong case of increasing legal competition equally strong. Or even bigger, because now the residential real estate market would have a new sector to exploit.

In fact, at this moment Korn Arquitectos is building a building in Bogotá designed for owners to rent apartments at night through Airbnb. According to the financial director of the firm, Iaron Korn, "the Mincit decree should not affect the current housing (or under construction), because, although they can take out the tourism record, people must face the rules of horizontal property. However, it could encourage that in the future more will be invested in projects like the ones we are doing, which from the design and even the legal structure are thought so that they can be rented for periods similar to those of the hotels ".

In effect, it is an important decree, which is why an intense discussion is expected from hotel guilds and tourism agencies once the Ministry of Commerce uploads it to its portal, for the comments phase. But if approved, the sector will change and will represent a crucial precedent for the rise of the collaborative economy.

This article was written and published in Spanish and has been translated into English via Google Translate. Click here to read the original article.

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