The Lithuanian Hotel and Restaurant Association has presented a list of suggestion to the government for better regulation of the short-term accommodation rental market, vz.lt reports.
"What drew our attention to the regulation of apartment rentals to foreign tourists was the official statistics on incoming tourism. Apparently, the figures are unreliable, because it does not account for the tourists who stay at privately-rented apartments," the association's president Evalda Šiškauskienė said during a press event on Wednesday.
She says that there are over 2,000 properties available for short-term rent to tourists in Lithuania. Meanwhile hotels and hostels, which are registered by the State Tourism Department, number 389.
"It turns out, that statistics do not include short-term rentals," Šiškauskienė said.
Many of these establishments operate in a semi-legal environment, she adds. For instance, they do not pay fees to the Lithuanian Copyright Protection Association or Lithuanian Neighbouring Rights Association that hotels are subject to. Many also escape the pillow tax or do not pay any taxes at all.
Moreover, short-rental properties are not required to meet fire safety and sanitary requirements.
"Right now, anyone can take out a business certificate to provide bed-and-breakfast services, for any property. The tax inspectorate does not even require any proof of owning the property. This kind of regulation has been in place for five years and has doubtlessly contributed to the spread of semi-legal accommodation establishments," Šiškauskienė says.
The Hotel and Restaurant Association says that this could lead to foreign tourists leaving with a bad impression of Lithuania.
It suggests that property owners who want to offer accommodation services should be required to undergo sanitary and safety inspection.
Short-term rent and bed and breakfast service providers should also be required to register with the State Tourism Department, the association believes.
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