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Airbnb has moved to head off conflict with tax-raising authorities, city councils and hoteliers worldwide as a two-day promotional event in Paris, the online home-sharing group’s biggest market, gets under way.
In a statement on its web site dated Nov. 11, the company whose runaway success has turned the travel and hotel industry upside down announced plans to co-operate with cities to make sure homeowners pay their fair share of hotel and tourist taxes.
Founded only in 2008 but measured earlier this year as the third-most valuable venture capital-backed group in the world at over $25 billion, Airbnb also said it would help prevent its service from causing housing shortages by “ensuring hosts agree to a policy of listing only permanent homes on a short-term basis”.
The announcement comes just a week after the company unveiled plans to form 100 home-sharing clubs in cities across the United States during 2016, a move aimed at giving advocates of home- and room-sharing companies a stronger voice to head off regulatory crackdowns.
The website is expected to have about 80 million nights booked this year, double the number in 2014, investors familiar with the company’s performance told Reuters in September.
The company says it has more than 1.5 million listings – homes, apartments, guest rooms, even houseboats and tree houses – in more than 34,000 cities in 190 countries.
San Francisco, California-based Airbnb says its biggest destination is Paris, with more than 40,000 listings there. It already said in August it would begin collecting and remitting tourist taxes from guests on behalf of rental apartments in the French capital.
In many cities it is seen as a competitor to independent hoteliers and to international hotel groups like InterContinental, Marriott and Accor.
(Reporting by Andrew Callus; editing by Susan Thomas)