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Airbnb will transfer tourism tax directly to the City of Vilnius

The booking platform is the first to sign such an agreement with a city in Lithuania and in the Baltic states
  • January 17, 2020 13:00
  • Author Plamen Petrov
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From 1st February 2020, Airbnb will automatically collect city tourism tax due per night and per person and transfer the sum directly to the City of Vilnius on behalf of hosts, the municipal development agency Go Vilnius announced.

This is the essence of the new agreement between the booking platform and the City of Vilnius which aims to lessen the administrative workload of tourism organizations and hosts. The levies will be collected from tourists during the booking process. Hosts in Vilnius who are listed on Airbnb have been duly informed about the new automated procedure.

Thus, Airbnb becomes the first booking platform to automatically collect tourism levies for guests staying not only in Lithuania, but in the Baltic States as a whole.

Inga Romanovskienė, Director of Vilnius city tourism and Go Vilnius said during the signing of the agreement: “Vilnius is being discovered by more and more tourists as an amazing place for city breaks filled with culture, history, and great food in a walkable UNESCO-listed Old Town. Moreover, Vilnius is packed with natural settings – almost half of the city is filled with green spaces and it’s a perfectly safe destination for holidays. Vilnius is also a dynamic city where agreements with important partners such as Airbnb are reached quickly. It’s a significant improvement for the administration of the city tax for hosts and tourists alike.”

Tourism upsurge stirs controversy

Airbnb is acessible in 62 languages across 191 countries and regions. The company boasts 7 million registered accommodations with more than half a billion guest arrivals to date. But while the booking platform really helps to enliven some neighbourhoods by bringing more tourists in, it sometimes harms the interests of both local residents and established hotel businesses.

The platform entices property owners to switch from renting their apartments long term to more lucrative short-term rentals, which leads to rent hikes, shrinking housing supply, and increased segregation.

Barcelona, for example, where 9.6% of all homes in its Old Town had been listed on Airbnb, stopped issuing new tourism housing licences, without which short-term rentals are illegal. The city council claims that the platform creates speculation and illicit economies and its activities cause nuisance and complaints.

Elsewhere, Airbnb has also been in a state of siege for some time. The company says it is working with regulators and tourism organisations on clear rules to promote responsible and sustainable tourism and enable home sharing. To this end Airbnb has concluded over 400 agreements with local and national governments and organizations around the world on the automated collection of tourism taxes. Globally, Airbnb has already collected more than $2 billion in tourist-related taxes through such agreements. 

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