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Tourism boss welcomes change to holiday bookings

Tourism boss welcomes change to holiday bookings

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 1:27pm 9th April 2020.

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

The head of Visit Cornwall has welcomed a decision by Airbnb to stop bookings being taken but said the action should have been taken weeks ago.

Malcolm Bell was furious last week at online booking platforms like Airbnb which were still taking bookings despite government guidelines banning all non-essential travel and hotels and other accommodation being forced to close.

Today Airbnb UK said that it would no longer allow bookings to be made during the lockdown period.

Mr Bell said: “It is better late than never but really it is too bloody late. They don’t get any credit from me as we have been trying to get them to do this for more than two weeks.”

He added: “This is a worldwide pandemic and they are an international company – they should have done this a long time ago.”

“We have heard from policymakers, and local residents who are worried about incoming visitors and the impact on the health of your communities. The vast majority of hosts and guests on Airbnb are adhering to the Government’s rules to contain the spread of COVID-19. But in these difficult times, we recognise our responsibility is to do all we can to prioritise the safety of all. This principle guides these further steps we are taking today.

“From today, it will not be possible to book a stay in the United Kingdom that starts on or before April 18, 2020, in line with government regulations. We will continue to review these measures after that date.”

Statement published by Airbnb UK

The company has also said that anyone who made a booking before March 14 for a stay between March 14 and May 31 will be able to claim a full refund through the firm’s cancellation policy.

A new scheme set up by the company – Frontline Stays – providing free accommodation for NHS staff and medical workers will not be affected. The company said that 12,000 hosts in the UK had offered their properties for use in the programme.

Airbnb had also been criticised by the tourism minister Nigel Huddleston who accused the company of “irresponsible and dangerous behaviour” by allowing accommodation to be advertised as “covid-19 retreats”.

The company addressed this in the statement saying: “There is no place on Airbnb for listing titles that could be interpreted as exploiting the pandemic, such as marketing around escaping COVID-19. As such, we are prohibiting listing titles that reference ‘COVID’, ‘coronavirus’ or ‘quarantine’ moving forward. This guidance has been communicated to hosts, and the majority have already made corrections.

“We want to do our part to keep everyone safe.”

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