Tourism association in France files complaint against Airbnb for unfair competition

A woman browsing the site of Airbnb on a tablet in Berlin, on June 8, 2016.
A woman browsing the site of Airbnb on a tablet in Berlin, on June 8, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - A French association of hotel and tourism companies said on Thursday (June 23) it had filed a complaint with Paris prosecutors against websites that offer private holiday rentals, such as Airbnb, for unfair competition.

The complaint was filed in November, but has only been made public now as French lawmakers are to consider an amendment that would allow cities with more than 200,000 residents to require the registration of short-term apartment rentals via the Internet.

"We aren't against these platforms," said Mr Jean-Bernard Falco, head of the AhTop association, which counts 30,000 members in the tourism industry.

If France is to remain the world's top tourism destination "it is necessary to have an offer of accommodation that is sufficiently developed but we are seeking to be on an equal footing with these platforms, for a healthy competition, with a guarantee of transparency for consumers", he told AFP.

An analysis by the Gide Loyrette Nouel law firm seen by AFP said the new platforms violate several French regulations.

AhTop called on lawmakers to require that websites ensure properties may legally be rented and declare rentals to the tax authorities.

The boom in holiday rentals has also worried residents and officials in some cities as they fear a drop in apartments available for long-term rentals.

In response to criticism from hotels, Airbnb, which now collects the tourist tax in 20 French cities, presented a study last November showing it had a positive economic impact of 2.5 billion euros per year in France, which is the platform's second-largest market behind the United States.