(QCOSTARICA)The number of bed and breakfasts, cabins or houses for tourism continues to grow strongly in Costa Rica, especially those that are linked to technology platforms, such as Airbnb.
According to the Cámara Costarricense de Hoteleros (hoteliers association), some 11,000 units are offering tourist rental accommodation through Aribnb, an equivalent to 21% of the 48,819 hotel rooms in the country.
Besides Airbnb that started operations in Costa Rica five years and doubled its inventory between 2015 and 2016, hotels face competition from other platforms, such as Homeaway.com with 4,540 units; vrbo.com with 4,462; and 240 by Wimdu.com, according to a count by ElFinancierocr.com.
Gustavo Araya, president of the hoteliers association, says the growth of the platforms could affect the hotel sector, especially for the low rates charged. The hotel industry claims that competition with these new platforms is not being developed on an equal footing.
Araya told Elfinanciero: “… ‘We have no objection to the platform(s) operating in the country, but we have to operate under the same conditions’.”
One of the benefits like Aribnb offers tourists access to much more information than a hotel provides. For owners of private accommodations, the platforms allow them access to many more customers that simply word of mouth.
According Jasmine Mora, press secretary for Airbnb Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean, Santa Cruz de Guanacaste is the preferred location for tourists who use the service.
Although the growth of the platforms can not be stopped, the hotel industry still accounts for 65% occupancy per year.
For hosts using platforms like Airbnb, it allows them to rent out a room of the full house or a beach condo, for example, while they are not using it.
Several hosts interviewed by ElFinancierocr.com say uses are looking for a different experience and don’t want to feel like a “tourist”. In many cases, renting an entire house or condo can be more economical for than renting multiple hotel rooms.
In tax terms, hosts using Airbnb and other platforms have only to declare income tax. In addition, they have to pay Airbnb 3% of the amount of the reserve as a service fee. The hotel sector, meanwhile, pays income tax and sales tax.