An association that represents short-term lets websites such as Airbnb, OneFineStay, HomeAway and GuestReady says they and their hosts are facing the devastating consequences of Coronavirus.
Many of the short-term lets platform have lost three-quarters of bookings on average over the past few weeks, raising fears that they could soon go under.
A poll by the Short Term Accommodation Association (STAA) reveals that since 13th March, the majority have seen more than 70% of their reservations cancelled, with some losing more than 90%, while most companies have said goodbye to more than 70% of their income.
Chair Merilee Karr believes the sector is under severe threat. “Bearing in mind that most of our members and their customers rely on tourism for between 70-100% of their revenue, the impact of the COVID-19 virus is potentially catastrophic,” she says.
“For those short-letting their home, the loss of both present and future income could be devastating. Countless small entrepreneurs face going out of business, removing money from local economies both now, and in the future.”
The STAA has urged the Government to help protect the sector and has called for it to amend legislation so companies can issue credit notes or vouchers instead of a cash refund, at a time when the biggest issue facing short-term rental businesses is cash-flow.
Rather than furloughing staff and keeping them on the payroll it suggests the Employment Retention Scheme should be directly applied to companies facing a significant drop in revenue to ensure staff can stay working through the duration of the crisis and help with the speed of recovery.
The STAA is also concerned by reports that banks are insisting on personal guarantees for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme from business owners, including property such as second homes and savings, and is asking for Government guidance.