The state of Airbnb in the Philippines

It was 2008,roommates Brain Chesky and Joe Gebbia started a small start-up using an air mattress and a free breakfast option. This simple room sharing idea became a USD 30 billion company that’s used all over the world today.

Described as a community marketplace, Airbnb changed the way renters and tourists find places to stay when they’re travelling. Instead of booking a room in an ultra-expensive hotel or resort, people can simply contact a homeowner with empty space anywhere in the world. Hosts are able to rent out their space for a weekend while photos and reviews of the property help users determine where they want to spend the night.

Not can using Airbnb be cheaper than traditional accommodations, guest also have the chance to see the place through the eyes of the local and therefore gain a more immersive experience. As of 2016, there were more than 2.3 million listings available on the website in 191 countries. Of course, there is more to the experience than meets the eye.

Airbnb has yet to build the utopian rental paradise it wanted. Accusations of racist hosts, thieving renters, and poor facilities are all over the internet, causing users to take a step back from using the service. Many are also worried on how businessmen are using Airbnb and other rental services to ruin real estate. Reports say some landlords are buying affordable housing units to rent out to Airbnb, causing for higher rent fees and lack of housing opportunities in some neighborhoods. Because of this practice in the USA, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren called an investigation to find out if websites like Airbnb are taking away housing from long-term renters and pushing prices up.

The Philippines is one of the Southeast Asian countries that use Airbnb. In 2015, Airbnb’s managing director for Southeast Asia and India, JiaJih Chai, told Manila Bulletin that listings continue to grow in the Philippines thanks to the booming real estate and tourism industry.Airbnb is the easiest way for foreigners to check out properties when they plan to visit the country. It’s also an amazing opportunity for Filipinos to earn some extra income, especially OFW who may leave their house empty for weeks or months each year. Chai mentioned Baguio,Tagaytay, Cebu, and Davao as the most viewed locations in the Philippines.

Despite its popularity, some have wondered if Airbnb is legal in the Philippines. While there have been some minor complaints against Airbnb in the country, the service is perfectly lawful. Some users are not aware that Airbnb hosts do not offer hotel services leaving them a little confused while others have been disappointed because the property listed does not look like its pictures on the website.

In 2015, the Philippine Hotel Owners Association (PHOA) made a plea to the Department of Tourism (DOT) to create a regulatory legislation for websites like Airbnb. The association asserted the lack of laws for online rental services can put tourists in danger. Arturo P. Boncato Jr., DOT assistant secretary for Mindanao cited the Canadian Province of Quebec which has alaw that required the same hotel taxes be put upon on Airbnb establishments. The association also mentioned that Airbnb establishments in the Philippines lack rules and decorum on dealing with guests which can lead to neglecting the needs of the customers.

It’s easy to see why everyone is hooked on the website. We are currently living in a “sharing economy” where the economic model looks favorably upon individuals who rent or borrow someone else’s property. Airbnb and websites that follow this format emanate a sense of community and truly embodied the old adage of sharing is caring. But the lack of rules and supervision can possibly bring harm to both hosts and users. Airbnb is perfect legally in the Philippines and can be a great way to earn some extra money, but it’s important for users, regardless of f they are renters or stayers, to be vigilant when using the service.