Hungarian hotels and online accommodation sites fight for guests

Municipalities may get oversight of online services

editor: REMIX NEWS

In a tourist market slowly recovering from the coronavirus pandemic, hotels conducting legitimate businesses and as yet unregulated online accommodation services are fighting for guests, tourism portal reports.

While several such services offering accommodation in Hungary, the current focus in the country is Californian based Airbnb, which is the most widespread in the country, offering 14,000 residences in Budapest alone. Complaints against them are the same as in many other parts of the world, such as driving up rental prices for local residents, excessive noise and general unruliness.

Airbnb is currently entirely unregulated in Hungary and the biggest trouble spot is downtown Budapest’s 7th district, the so-called “party district”, a popular destination for bachelor parties and a weekend partying destination for Western European tourists.

Cabinet Minister Gergely Gulyás said on Thursday that the government is preparing a draft bill that it will shortly submit to Parliament, giving municipalities control over regulating this market, adding that the government has received a series of complaints concerning unfair competition from hotel owners.

Opposition Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony – who is generally at loggerheads with the government on various issues – this time agrees with the government’s intention, partly blaming Airbnb for driving flat rental prices in downtown Budapest to levels unreachable for middle-class families. While the government is currently open to suggestions on how to regulate this market segment, Karácsony suggested three main aspects.

These are: introduce regulations similar to what many Western European metropolises have in place, differential taxation giving preference to long-term rentals and allowing local communities and municipalities – which have to live with the consequences of increased tourism – to have a say in which properties can be used for tourist accommodation.

Several major cities in Europe and the United States have their own regulations to short-term rentals, as does Ireland and Japan on a national level.

Last year, tourism accounted for 10.7 percent of Hungary’s GDP and the government’s long-term strategy calls for increasing this ratio to around 15 percent by the end of the decade.

Title image: Tourists in downtown Budapest. (MTI/Balázs Mohai)


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