Authorities are working on new regulations for short-term rentals, which business associations say are severely impacting hotels in Antalya, one of Turkiye’s major tourist destinations.
Representatives of the tourism industry have long been complaining that the occupancy rates at the Mediterranean city’s accommodation facilities remain low as many arriving tourists prefer to stay at those short-term rental apartments during their vacation.
They also criticize that most of those leasing out the apartments work informally and do not pay taxes, creating unfair competition.
But rules for short-term rentals may change soon as authorities are working on the issue, Antalya Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ATSO) President Ali Bahar said, adding that some concrete measures are starting to emerge after they raised the issue with Tourism Minister Mehmet Ersoy.
As part of the new rules under consideration, if an apartment is to be offered on Airbnb, the consent of all the occupants in the building will be required, Bahar said, referring to initial information he obtained from authorities.
“What we demand is not a blanket ban. This problem could be resolved best by inspections and better regulations.”
Authorities are also mulling over a special tax scheme for such apartments, Bahar said.
They also proposed a hotline through which people can report those working illegally, he added.
Mehmet Gem, the president of the Travel Agencies Managers’ Association (SAYD), has floated the idea that travel agencies should be responsible for short-term rentals and that real estate agents should be excluded from this system.
Levelling the playing field, creating the conditions for fair competition would be the best thing to do for them, said Erkan Yağcu, the chair of the Turkiye Hoteliers’ Federation (TÜROFED).
Over 10 million foreign tourists have arrived in the city by air between January and August, rising 20 percent year-on-year. The hotel occupancy rate at Antalya’s hotels, however, declined from 74.6 percent in July 2022 to 70.5 percent in the same month of 2023.
Foreigners offer short-term rentals
Tourism associations and hoteliers in Antalya complain that Russians and Ukrainians have also started to enter the short-term rental business.
The city has been experiencing an influx of people from Russia and Ukraine since the start of the war.
Those who fled the conflict either bought or rented houses in the city. Some Russians and Ukrainians have started to lease out their apartments to arriving tourists,hurting hotels’ businesses.
The number of foreign “real estate agents” almost surpassed the number of local realtors, complains İsmail Çağlar, the president of the Antalya Real Estate Agents’ Association.
More than 200,000 foreigners live in the city, with most of them being Russians and Ukrainians.