The debate around unregistered accommodations-popularly known as Airbnb homes-has been ongoing for quite some time.

 A comprehensive examination of this topic necessitates a look at its positive and negative aspects, causes, and consequences.

For years, both abroad and within our own country, the practice of renting out entire homes or rooms has become popular, with Airbnb as its most recognized platform. Travelers, understandably seeking more affordable lodging options, often choose this type of accommodation. However, this new style of lodging often lacks proper oversight and safety checks and is frequently used by individuals without professional hospitality experience as a source of extra income.

These unregulated spaces have long been competing with licensed hotels, guesthouses, and apartment hotels, leading to significant revenue losses for these traditional accommodations. Although recent legislation has attempted to curb this practice, various methods continue to keep the practice alive. Historically, the concept of varied lodging options isn't new—people have been exchanging their homes with others from different countries for many years, offering travelers unique alternatives.

Indeed, didn't tourism in our coastal villages start in a similar way? Initially, locals would rent out a room in their homes to tourists exploring the area, giving rise to the home guesthouse business. This evolved into the establishment of apartment hotels and small, boutique hotels that improved service quality. Hosting guests, starting from homes and expanding to globally acclaimed five-star hotels and resorts, has been one of our most successful endeavors.

However, in recent years, rising costs and the struggle against unregistered accommodations, along with restrictive regulations, have made licensed smaller lodging facilities unsustainable examples of the tourism industry, forcing many to change their business models or even shut down.

When we consider unregistered lodging spaces, many certified hotels have adapted by renting nearby villas and homes, introducing a new lodging trend. This trend, which often skips services like breakfast and daily cleaning to minimize labor and operational costs, has been satisfactory for both guests and business owners so far. The pandemic introduced us to minimal-contact interactions, which quickly became integrated into our lives and businesses. Whether this sensitive new trend can manage its unregistered components remains a question.

Another contributing factor to unsustainable tourism is the challenging regulations faced by operators seeking official licenses.

Operators who want to run their businesses legally face lengthy and costly bureaucratic processes to obtain the necessary permits. Before even starting, a facility must secure operational licenses from local municipalities and then tourism operation certificates from the government, often hindered by varying local fire safety standards. Many businesses, especially those with fewer rooms or unique architectural features, find these requirements prohibitively challenging. Consequently, many decide to continue unregistered, seeing that while registered businesses face initial and ongoing regulatory costs and frequent inspections, unregistered and even those without building permits often operate more advantageously without oversight.

Last year, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism took significant steps to regulate all lodging businesses with various laws and directives. As we continue down this path, wouldn't it be sensible to ease the challenges for businesses wanting to register, offer incentives, and provide guidance that doesn't escalate start-up costs? This approach would not only promote legal compliance but also support the sustainability of tourism as an industry.