#SEYCHELLES CRACKS DOWN ON UNLICENSED ACCOMMODATION OPERATORS
(Posted 12th December 2017)
Authorities in the Seychelles, but also other parts of Africa, have finally woken up to the Airbnb phenomenon and are now actively combing listings for their respective countries to check if those offering accommodation are not only licensed but also if they pay taxes on their income.
For long, at least in the early stages of Airbnb entering African markets, was this a grey area but is now progressively being tackled by tax and licencing bodies across the continent, sometimes to the dismay of accommodation owners when caught red handed.
In the Seychelles has the Minister for Tourism, Civil Aviation, Ports and Marine Mr. Maurice Loustau-Lalanne now given a warning to those without all prerequisite licences that their days will be numbered as the licencing department will follow the Airbnb listings to establish their status. The minister said that initial findings were such that over 200 establishments on the main islands of Mahe, Praslin and La Digue were thought to be evading proper licencing, and probably the payment of taxes too, and would be approached to either regularize their status or, if continuing to remain outside the proper framework, be faced with prosecution which can attract fines to the tune of over 3.000 US Dollars and jail terms not exceeding 5 years.
Notably has immigration at the international airport also joined into the hunt. Visitors to the Seychelles require no Visa but must fulfill other requirements for admission to the country, such as having a return ticket, having confirmed accommodation and sufficient funds to sustain themselves. It is with the accommodation part where the immigration department at the airport has now began to check on the booking visitors present on arrival, and when found to be booked into an establishment not listed by the Ministry of Tourism or the Seychelles Tourist Board, then intervene to have tourists redirected to licenced accommodation providers.
Minister Maurice also mentioned at the same time that come 2018 the focus will also shift to unlicensed boat and transport operators to ensure, besides compliance with the laws and regulations, also safe operating standards.
If and how this will affect the listings on Airbnb is presently not known but it is suspected that as a result of these ongoing operations unlicensed accommodation offerings may be withdrawn from the booking website.