Swiss city of Neuchâtel adds its voice for Airbnb to directly apply overnight tax to bookings
The city council is apparently in negotiations with the US accommodation bookings site to have overnight tourism taxes applied directly to the booking price.
The cantons of Fribourg, Valais, Geneva, Bern and Ticino are also reportedly in negotiations with Airbnb to have the state tax applied directly to bookings. Zurich is said to have signed a deal in May this year with Airbnb for the bookings platform to collect all overnight stay taxes directly and pay them into the canton's coffers, according to Tribune de Genève.
Airbnb apparently has 400 similar deals with council, municipalities and regional authorities across the world.
Besides Zurich, Zug and Basel-Country are the only two cantons in Switzerland to have signed such an agreement with the San Francisco-based services provider so far.
In 2017, there were more than 15,000 Airbnb overnight stays in Neuchâtel, representing 5 per cent of all overnight bookings, reports Swiss news portal 20 Minutes.
Neuchatel hopes a digital system will simplify the administration of tourism receipts. But if the experience of other cantons is anything to go by, the city could be in for a "long and fastidious" negotiation with the bookings firm.
"We don't necessarily have the resources to negotiate with Airbnb in Berlin or Zurich," Laurent Favre, a spokesman for the cantonal authorities in Neuchâtel – which oppose the move as supposed to the city authorities who are in favour – told 20 Minutes. Airbnb has grown steadily in recent years in Switzerland, doing particularly well in mountainous resorts like Valais.
Authorities around the world have taken various measures to curtail Airbnb's rise, which some say pushes local residents out of city neighbourhoods.
In Geneva, house and apartment owners can only place their property for rent on Airbnb for 60 days a year, as of April 2018. Barcelona fined Airbnb €600,000 last year and several Spanish cities have held protests against what they consider to be Airbnb's contribution to 'overtourism' – as The Local Spain reports.
Airbnb claims that it provides a useful service by helping visitors find affordable temporary lodging while enabling homeowners to supplement their income.