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HomeNewsAirbnb in Costa Rica Faces Calls for Regulation

Airbnb in Costa Rica Faces Calls for Regulation

Millions of tourists choose Costa Rica as their vacation destination. Some opt for chain hotels, wellness retreats, or luxury villas, while others seek more budget-friendly options. However, Costa Rica’s hotel sector believes that unfair price competition persists and is calling for more regulations to level the playing field.

Non-traditional lodging, such as Airbnb rentals, often evades municipal patents, lacks permits from the Ministry of Health, and in some cases, doesn’t pay social security contributions for its personnel. Additionally, electricity and water services are charged at residential rates rather than commercial.

This has prompted hoteliers to urge lawmakers to establish by law a minimum stay of 6 days for tourists in non-traditional accommodations, regardless of their nationality.

“We are not opposing regulatory and tax issues; we want both businesses to grow in the country and to build a positive policy,” said Carlos Muñoz, Airbnb’s Director of Public Policy and Communications for Central America and the Caribbean.

Muñoz pointed out that the proposed bill would significantly limit consumers’ and visitors’ flexibility in trip planning. Both domestic and foreign tourists often prefer shorter stays at each accommodation, enabling them to explore multiple destinations or adjust their plans according to specific itineraries.

While the hotel sector seeks regulations for fair competition, supporters of non-traditional accommodations argue for distinct regulatory treatment due to their differing business models.

This law would also directly impact local tourism, which typically favors weekend getaways or short vacations, given that Costa Ricans, in general, don’t have a large number of paid vacation days.

One of the main complaints voiced by Costa Ricans concerns the high prices of hotels, which primarily target international tourism and overlook locals when setting rates. This prompts many to seek alternative lodging options to explore their own country or opt for vacations abroad.

For the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), the proposal to impose a minimum stay solely on non-traditional lodging would create inequity.

“We are committed to exploring solutions that promote harmonious coexistence between different types of accommodations, ensuring that both traditional hoteliers and non-traditional platforms contribute to the sustainable development of our tourism industry,” stressed the ICT.

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