Published: Mon, June 11, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Airbnb cancels thousands of reservations in Japan amid rule change

Airbnb cancels thousands of reservations in Japan amid rule change

With these new regulations, the Wall Street Journal reports that "it has led to the loss of tens of thousands of listed offerings as well as canceled reservations".

"Any reservation scheduled for guest arrival between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not now have a license has been cancelled", Airbnb writes.

"We know this stinks - and that's an understatement", Airbnb said. The Shinjuku ward of central Tokyo, for example, prohibits lodging in residential areas on weekdays, while Kyoto limits stays in such locations to about 60 days between January and March for hosts without a special license.

Under the new law, hosts must register their listing and display their licence by 15 June.

The government has given property owners another option: to provide lodging with a hotel license, which frees them from the 180-day limit. "Going forward, unless the government reverses its position, we will automatically cancel and fully refund any reservations at listings in Japan that have not been licensed within 10 days of guest arrival".

As a result, thousands of Airbnb listings in Japan, a rapidly-growing market for the startup, vanished from the site.

"We expect the number of applications will increase after the home sharing law is enacted", said Soichi Taguchi, deputy director at Japan Tourism Agency. They will also receive a $100 coupon for an Airbnb Experience. The company even set up a website to guide its users through the process. The announcement affects bookings made before June 15.

Hosts willing to jump through all the hoops still have to contend with a market that's shifting from couch-surfing toward professional services.

Last year, Japan legalized home sharing. The e-commerce giant has teamed up with real-estate listing operator Lifull Co., Expedia Group Inc.'s home-rental subsidiary HomeAway and, Airbnb's biggest rival in China.

Airbnb was surprised that the Japan Tourism Agency didn't seem to care about lost revenue from tourists.

I am not sure Ghanaians visit Japan very often, but ah well.

The $10 million fund, Airbnb said, will cover "additional expenses for guests who are scheduled to travel to Japan and have had their plans interrupted due to a cancellation". The controversy over short-term rentals in Japan comes as the country works to boost already-record numbers of tourists and is anticipating an influx of visitors for next year's Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Olympics.

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