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Costa Maya hotel owners request federal investigation into illegal accommodations

Costa Maya, Q.R. — Hotel owners in the southern region of the state have asked federal authorities to conduct an investigation into the illegal accommodations being offered.

Nicanor Piña Ugalde, President of the Bacalar Magical Towns Committee, says hotel owners from Bacalar, Chetumal and Mahahual have requested the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Finance and Planning carry out an inspection of the accommodations being offered online.

He says they have found around 7,000 rooms being offered for rent to tourists on digital platforms like Airbnb. He says of those, only around 20 percent are operating legally with state permits.

He says the other 80 percent are operating without permits, which also means they are operating without Civil Protection consent which puts guests at risk.

“Unfortunately, we are not only talking about Airbnb but about many other platforms that are not regulated. There are even guest houses that are being offered through social networks.

“We are not against someone who has a house in Mahahual, Bacalar or Chetumal renting it out for the tourism sector through Facebook, for example. But if they do not comply with all the security guidelines, they represent a danger to guests,” he said adding that these types of accommodations often lack things such as emergency exits and fire extinguishers.

“It is not only about them not paying the Lodging Tax, but also these construction and operating permits, which guarantee that the establishments are working in order. For this reason, the owners offer really cheap rates, but if an accident happens where they do not even have insurance for their guests, it is the entire tourist destination that looks bad,” he explained.

Ugalde says they are not against people renting out their houses since guests who rent them are of a different targeted market than the hotels. He says the concern is that they do it legally.

Earlier this month, a large hotel that burned on the island of Cozumel was also operating without Civil Protection consent. A day after the fire that saw 575 hotel guests evacuated, Paul Quintero Mari, the director of Civil Protection Cozumel, confirmed that the hotel operated without Civil Protection consent.

He said the hotel was considered high risk after an inspection a few weeks before the fire revealed failures in water pressure for their hydrants.