Your Airbnb in Japan May Be Canceled
On Tuesday, CondÃ© Nast Traveler reader Jennifer Chisholm wrote to us about an upcoming trip to Tokyo that seemed to have fallen apart. Her Airbnb listing had disappeared from the site. She wasn't alone: More than 62,000 Japanese apartments, homes, and rooms were pulled from Airbnb on Monday in response to the country's new law that requires all vacation rentals on sites like Airbnb and HomeAway have a registration number from the federal or local government. It's a bit bewildering, to see your reservation on the other side of the world disappear, says Chisholm: "It still says confirmed, but the listing is gone," she told us at the time. She could still contact her future host through the website's chat system but Airbnb's support rep offered this in response: "This listing which you have booked has not acquired the notification number yet.... I would suggest you to be v ery sure about the information and check with [your host] again about the registration process so you don't face any issues later." Her host didn't have any advice at the time either. So...was it canceled? Or confirmed?
Following a series of back and forths with Airbnb's team, the company gave us official word this morning: "Any reservation scheduled for guest arrival between June 15 and June 19 at a listing in Japan that does not currently have a license has been canceled." If your listing is still available on Airbnb, you should be in the clear, but make sure to contact your host and get their governmental license number to confirm. If you have a reservation beyond June 19 on a listing that has suddenly disappeared, your trip may not be canceled, but don't hold your breath. That home will still need to be licensedâ"and if it isn't registered within 10 days of your trip, your booking will be canceled with a fu ll refund. Travelers will also get a coupon equivalent to their full Airbnb trip and a $100 voucher for Airbnb Experiences, along with assistance from local travel agency JTB to find alternative accommodation and 24/7 backup from Airbnb's support team.
The confusion and cancellations come as a result of Japan's minpaku laws, which apply "the Japanese Hotels and Inns Act, a law that has been on the books since 1947," to home rentals, and were set to go into affect on June 15. Airbnb has been supportive of these new rules overall and reiterated their general support in today's statement: "While this is a difficult time for our hosts and guests, we believe the new rules will ultimately be a positive change for Airbnb and our Japan community. In recent years, the lack of clear rules for home sharing has made many people who used Airbnb as guests reluctant to take the next step and host. The law in Japan solves that problem, and thatâs one o f the many reasons why we supported the new rules."
But the restrictions that caused all of these sudden changes were a surprise to the homeshare company. "Unfortunately, the Japanese government issued a sudden announcement on June 1 instructing any host without a license number to cancel upcoming reservations that were booked before June 15â"even though many of these hosts are actively engaged in the registration process or awaiting their license," Airbnb said in a statement. "This announcement came as a surprise to us. It was contrary to the guidance our team had previously been given by the Japanese Tourism Agency (JTA) and put the travel experiences of thousands of visitors to Japan at risk."
Having to cancel upcoming reservations for all hosts without registrationsâ"even those in the process of getting a licenseâ"was in direct contrast to what they had been told by the Japanese Tourism Agency over the past few months, they added. "Th is is understandably frustrating, especially since many hosts are close to acquiring their license," the statement read. "Itâs particularly disruptive for guests who have a trip to Japan planned for the weeks and months ahead. We will continue to help hosts get registered. This includes helping hosts meet directly with legal experts, as well as providing financial support to hosts who may incur additional expenses when registering... We are incredibly sorry. We know this stinksâ"and thatâs an understatement."
Suddenly not having somewhere to stay days before arriving seems like a travel nightmare, even to the most fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants travelers among us, not to mention new lodging may be wildly expensive in Japan. Airbnb knows that. They've assembled a $10 million fund to cover travelers' accommodations or flight change fees due to cancellations. If your Japanese Airbnb reservation starts on or after June 15, you can find all of the inform ation for how to apply for reimbursement on Airbnb's dedicated site. Make sure to keep copies of the receipts from any incidental charges and send them, along with an explanation of the charges, to email@example.com.
"We would have changed our trip if we had known this was going to be so complicated," Chisolm says. "We planned our trip to have that feeling, of staying in a real neighborhood, going out to a local cafÃ© for my morning coffee, and buying groceries. To think we suddenly need to book a hotel in a tourist area...it's not the same."Source: Google News Japan | Netizen 24 Japan