PAPHOS hoteliers are again voicing concerns over the unregulated private holiday rental market in Cyprus, highlighting issues of health and safety as a priority.
Head of the Paphos hoteliers, Euripides Loizides, said that more must be done to reign in the private market which has seen a surge in popularity over recent years with sites such as Airbnb, Owners Direct and other similar internet sites, before any tragedies occur.
“Tourists don’t know what they are getting, and at the very least these properties must be registered with the fire department and adhere to health and safety regulations. Imagine if there was a fire in a block for example, as happened in England recently, and it hasn’t been approved for safety, what then?” he asked.
Currently, all properties which are used to accommodate tourists should be declared as such by planning authorities and must secure a licence in advance and meet strict criteria. This covers all of the different categories, including traditional houses, apartments, villas and hotels. However, most owners renting out properties privately in Cyprus are not adhering to this, according to Loizides.
Unlicensed properties in Cyprus can only be utilised for domestic use and not tourist use.
Popular global holiday rental sites show thousands of possible private rental options, covering all sorts of accommodation, available all over island.
Loizides stressed that it is not acceptable to offer accommodation that isn’t safe and such practices present a terrible image which affects the whole of Cyprus, and the image of tourism in Cyprus in general.
Rental income from such properties should be declared to the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) as at present income in this sector is mostly’ black money’, most of which ends up abroad, he said.
“The owners are taking this money and sending it overseas which is detrimental to the local economy and has to stop.”
Although there is ‘plenty of business’ to share for everyone and such rentals are not damaging the success of the legally operated outlets, he pointed out that illegal rentals were ‘unfair’ competition.
“These people aren’t paying any taxes and they should. If they want to send the money elsewhere once it’s been declared, that’s up to them but at least they will have contributed locally in some way,” he said.
He said that a special category should be created by the CTO for such properties. He has been pushing for this change since last year.
“It is not down to us to police such issues, it’s down to the CTO and a new category would be of a great help to everyone involved,” he said.