Mombasa Airbnb Hosts Face New Revenue Obligations
Home-stay operators, commonly referred to as Airbnb hosts, in Mombasa are now facing the prospect of taxation, as the County government makes a move to integrate them into its revenue framework.
Mombasa Governor Abdulswamad Nassir has expressed his belief that Airbnb proprietors should contribute to local taxes in a manner similar to traditional hotel establishments.
Nassir stated, “Equity in business operations is essential. With guesthouses and lodges already paying licensing fees, it is only fair for Airbnb operators to also contribute levies to the Mombasa County government.” He conveyed this message during a meeting with stakeholders in the hospitality sector.
These remarks follow closely on the heels of initiatives by the Tourism Fund to enlist home-stay businesses into its registry, as it was discovered that approximately 40,000 Airbnb hosts operate in Kenya, whereas only 400 have been officially registered.
The national government, acting through the Tourism Fund, intends to impose a two-percent levy on Airbnb operators. David Mwangi, the CEO of the Fund, revealed that discussions have been ongoing with Airbnb Africa’s office to ensure that all hosts on the platform are both informed and registered.
Mr. Mwangi emphasized, “We urge all hosts to acknowledge that they provide accommodation services and are, consequently, legally obliged to register and remit the two percent levy.” He made this statement during a meeting with officials from the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) counties.
For a substantial period, hoteliers have voiced their grievances regarding the high taxation burden they bear, while Airbnb businesses have operated relatively tax-free due to a lack of regulatory oversight.
Hospitality industry investors argue that the nation has been losing significant revenue as more Kenyan citizens opt for opulent Airbnb accommodations over conventional hotels. Notably, regions such as Diani, Mombasa, and Kilifi feature luxurious beachfront Airbnb offerings with daily rates that can reach up to Sh100,000, depending on the available amenities.