Chiamaka Ihekwoaba

Chiamaka Ihekwoaba

Morocco to tax Airbnb for their vacation rental services in the country

Come 2019, online market place and hospitality platform Airbnb will start paying tax in Morocco to bridge the widening gap between online rental services and hotels operating in the country.

Morocco’s head of regulation, development and quality in the Air Transport and Social Economy Ministry, Mehdi Taleb, confirmed that the vacation rentals offered on Airbnb Inc. will be subject to tax from 2019.

The decision, he said in an interview, was taken to bridge a legal void that has hurt over 3,800 hotels and travel agencies operating in Morocco. This void has hurt the visibility of the tourism sector and has distorted the country’s development strategies.

According to Taleb, these online portals offering vacation and hospitality services have successfully boycotted 60 percent of the 11 million tourist that visit the North African country, as these tourists can now plan their holiday themselves without the help of the the conventional tourism guide the country provides.

Tourism is the second largest foreign exchange earner in Morocco after the phosphate industry. The sector accounts for 10 percent of the country’s economy and in 2017 alone, tourism generated over $7 billion revenue.

With this, the government is investing hugely in the tourism sector as it plans to make Morocco one of the world’s top 20 tourist destinations as well double the annual number of international arrivals to 20 million by 2020.

To ensure nothing hinders the government’s vision 2020 plans, it intends to dispatch tax officials that will work with undercover hotel inspectors and interior ministry informants to collect the taxes from the targeted online vacation platforms.

In Morocco alone, close to 20,000 people have listed properties on Airbnb’s platform.