First Published: 2018-01-07

Airbnb boosts Moroccos tourism but hotel industry denounces unlawful competition
The company reported that nearly 300,000 tourists using its online platform visited Morocco from September 2016 to September 2017.
Middle East Online

By Saad Guerraoui - CASABLANCA

Tourists walk down an alleyway in the Medina of Chefchaouen in northern Morocco

The US-based online marketplace and hospitality service Airbnb is boosting Moroccos tourism sector but the hotel industry has denounced what it calls unlawful competition.

The company, which does not own any lodgings, reported that almost 300,000 tourists using its online platform visited Morocco from September 2016 to September 2017, the Airbnb Africa Insight Report, published in October, said.

The countrys 21,000 active listings on Airbnb generated average annual earnings of $1,300, bringing in a total of $22 million in earnings for local households, the report said.

Airbnb, which entered the Moroccan market in 2010, makes money by charging fees to both guests and hosts on each rental. Hosts are charged a flat fee of 3% plus a value-added tax on each booking and guests are charged 5-15% of the cost of a reservation.

Ive been using Airbnb since 2011 to rent my apartment. Its quick, hassle-free and Airbnb charges less than real estate agencies, said Hamza, who owns a flat in the upscale Hivernage district in Marrakech.

It helped me generate much-needed revenue when I left my job to concentrate on setting up my project, he added.

Small hostels, guesthouses and riads have switched from platforms dedicated to hotels to offer their accommodations on Airbnb due to its growing popularity. Marrakech, Casablanca, Essaouira and Agadir top the list of accommodation offers in Morocco.

Morocco is Airbnbs second-biggest market in Africa, after South Africa, in terms of accommodation offers.

Airbnb allows you to live in a home rather than a hotel room. This is more comfortable for me and makes me feel like Im at home rather than on vacation, said Kaptan Kaster, an American professional tennis player in Morocco for tournaments. It allows you to experience the culture more. Regardless of what neighbourhood you are staying in, Airbnb helps you dive into the regions culture and interact with local neighbours.

It is cheaper. Usually I stay somewhere for a week and Airbnb gives a discount when you stay at least a week. There was a washer/ dryer, so we got to do clothes. That would have cost a lot at a hotel, he added. He did mention that the bed was very hard.

The number of guests in Morocco has increased 68% compared to the previous year with 88% of them saying they rented Airbnb accommodations to live like locals, the report said.

The hotel industry has long complained about competition from Airbnb, which they considered unlawful because the home-sharing companys market share is growing at the expense of hotels takings, which could jeopardise businesses and the jobs they provide.

Moroccan authorities are in touch with Airbnb to find a solution that would ensure equity between competitors in the tourism sector and control the quality of accommodations offered in Morocco.

The Ministry of Tourism said the main principle was tax fairness and declarations of arrivals and overnight stays.

We had asked the ministry to discuss with Airbnb because this platform competes with hoteliers and travel agencies, Fouzi Zemrani, vice-president of the National Confederation of Tourism, told the weekly TelQuel.

We are not for the closure of Airbnb but we want them to be subject to Moroccan norms and rules, he said. Law 61-00 allows renting rooms from hosts but it must be declared to the police and hotel taxes must be paid.

Morocco could consider Frances fiscal model, which divides hosts into categories determined by the level of income earned through Airbnb.

Saad Guerraoui is a regular contributor to The Arab Weekly on Maghreb issues.

This article was originally published in The Arab Weekly.


France, US clash with Iran over changing nuclear accord

Saudi Arabia claims killing of Yemen rebel leader

EU to Russia, Iran: Bring Syria to peace talks

Iraq's Shiites split ahead of crucial vote

Iraq’s ex-football stars from sports to politics

Turkey opposition journalists demand acquittal in terror trial

UN says Syria blocking humanitarian aid to Douma

OPCW experts visit second site of alleged Douma gas attack

Israeli policeman gets 9 months jail for killing Palestinian

US court rules for Arab Bank in precedent-setting case

Lebanese candidates pay hefty price for media coverage

Madani’s resignation sheds light on Iranian power play

Kuwait expels Filipino ambassador over treatment of workers

Syria aid donations for 2018 fall short of amount hoped

Growing anti-war sentiment in the US Congress could spell trouble for Trump

Liverpool’s Salah wins Israeli defence minister’s plaudits

Body of assassinated Palestinian driven through Malaysian capital

'Gap in perceptions' threatens wider Middle East war

UNESCO picks Morocco for project on prevention of violent extremism

Syrian regime retakes region near Damascus from rebels

Mogherini: Iran deal 'needs to be preserved'

Syria rebels prepare as Assad sets sights on next target

Iran's Rouhani questions 'right' to seek new nuclear deal

Trump, Macron call for 'new' nuclear deal with Iran

Syria's Idlib 'big new challenge' for international community

UNRWA chief says Palestinian aid $200 million short since Trump cuts

Bad memories resurface at Raqa’s mass grave

Turkey newspaper chief slams journalist terror trial

Setback for Yemen rebels after strike takes out leader

Saudi issues Islamic sukuk sale to finance deficit

Yarmuk, an epicentre of Syria's bloody conflict

Egypt’s Eurobond succeeds but risks remain

Egypt former anti-corruption chief gets five years jail

Philippines apologises to Kuwait over 'maid rescues'

Iran urges EU not to pay Trump ‘ransom’ over nuclear deal

UAE to finance project to rebuild Mosul's Grand al-Nuri Mosque

EU, UN begin major conference for Syria aid

New tensions rise between old rivals Turkey and Greece

Rouhani warns Trump against betraying nuclear deal

10 killed in Toronto “deliberate” van attack

Nine people killed in Toronto van attack

Yemen Huthi political leader killed in coalition raid

Syria security chief refuses Lebanon court appearance

Air raid kills dozens at Yemen wedding

Algeria draws Europe’s ire by cutting imports, boosting trade with China