A local hotel association has hit out at online accommodation network Airbnb, calling the sharing economy “sugar-coated poison” with “fancy wrappings” and compared it to communism.

The comment came after Marvin Ma, public affairs manager of Airbnb Hong Kong and Taiwan, said at an event last month that the city had 5,000 active hosts last year with over 460,000 trips completed. He also urged the relaxation of regulations.

airbnb page
The homepage of Airbnb.

At a press conference on Tuesday, the Federation of Hong Kong Hotel Owners Executive Director Michael Li said that Airbnb operates illegally and that customers are not protected.

Li also said that hotels provide job opportunities and abide by the law, stating that sharing economy was “no different from stealing” and that “you might as well go for communism.” He also said that the platform does not contribute to the local economy, Ming Pao reported.

mandarin oriental
The inside of Mandarin Oriental, a hotel in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikicommons.

Li urged the government to crackdown on lodgings provided under Airbnb, which he said were unlicensed. Guesthouses in Hong Kong are regulated by the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance.

The government said last October that it will tighten regulations this year to target unlicensed guesthouses. Between 2014 and 2016, 454 prosecutions were taken against such unauthorised lodgings.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.