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MP forces change

Airbnb backs down over holiday adverts during virus crisis

Ian Blackford

Ian Blackford: put pressure on company

Airbnb has banned booking of holiday lettings following an outcry over its continuation of advertising during the coronavirus lockdown.

UK Tourism minister Nigel Huddleston said property owners were being “incredibly irresponsible”.

Airbnb had already barred rentals for private rooms in shared houses, and disabled the instant book function for whole properties, while offering guests refunds for rooms they no longer wished to take up.

The latest step tightens up who can book stays on the platform by limiting it to key workers.

“Restricting bookings on Airbnb to key workers and other essential stays will allow hosts to continue supporting frontline workers while following government guidance,” said Patrick Robinson, director of public policy at Airbnb.

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, said it was “welcome news for people in the Highlands and all across Scotland.

“People should be following the clear public health advice to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.

“An outright ban on holiday bookings should have been the case from the very outset of the lockdown and I sincerely hope that Airbnb has learned lessons from their awful handling of this.

“In light of their decision, it’s now imperative that bookings taken before the ban are cancelled as a matter of urgency to protect our rural communities from the risk of the spread of coronavirus.”

An outright ban on holiday bookings should have been the case from the very outset

– Ian Blackford, SNP

Mr Blackford described Airbnb’s advertising during the crisis as “beneath contempt”, and urged people to stay at home this Easter weekend. He said companies must not “put profits before people’s lives.”

The expansion of Airbnb lettings has been highly controversial because of the impact that short term lets – often just a few days – have on local communities.

However, the Covid-19 outbreak has almost killed off holiday lettings and many property owners have switched back to the residential market.

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