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Lodging reps urge lawmakers to level playing field with Airbnb

State tourism committee hears testimony at York hotel

Bed-and-breakfasts face myriad regulations, from fire codes and sanitation standards to food and alcohol certifications, B&B owner Dee Fegan of Mechanicsburg said Wednesday.

However, short-term and vacation rentals – such as those offered via website Airbnb – often  “don’t play by the same rules,” the owner of 30 Timber Road Bed & Breakfast told state officials in York on Wednesday.

She was one of several business owners and leaders appearing before members of the state House Tourism and Recreational Development Committee at a hearing on “online room sharing” at the Yorktowne Hotel.

As the lawmakers – including several committee members from the midstate – convened at the historic York hotel, a national hotel organization released a new report on the growth of house-sharing company Airbnb’s operations in Philadelphia.

“A growing number of commercial operators are using Airbnb to run unregulated, and often illegal, lodging businesses,” a news release from the American Hotel & Lodging Association said Wednesday.

Wednesday’s nearly two-hour session gave state lawmakers a chance to learn more about the growth of short-term rentals across the state and to consider possible legislation, officials said.

Among other findings, the report said over one-fourth of Airbnb’s revenue in the Philadelphia area – 27% or almost $4 million – comes from operators who listed units for rent full-time.

Airbnb officials were invited to speak at Wednesday’s session at the Yorktowne, said committee chairman Dave Hickernell, an Elizabethtown-area state representative, but were not able to attend.

“Competition is the hallmark of the lodging industry. We are not – and never have been – against competition,” Troy Flanagan, vice president of state and government affairs for the hospitality association, said in his testimony.

But the group is against “the growing number of commercial operators using websites like Airbnb to essentially operate multi-unit, full-time lodging businesses without any oversight,” he added.

David O'Connor
Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at [email protected].

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