Airbnb has come under the spotlight in recent weeks, with the City of Cape Town calling for further regulations to be implemented, and now Namibia has followed suit.

Windhoek (Reuters) reported that the Namibia government said that local home owners listed on Airbnb are at risk of imprisonment if they fail to register with the tourism regulatory body before the end of 2017.

Government says this is made clear in the Act of Parliament, Act 21 of 2000, which established the Namibia Tourism Board. Section 20 (1) provides that any person who intends to run an accommodation establishment must apply to the board for registration. The Act came into force in 2004; therefore, any person who provides accommodation to any paying guest is obligated to register with the regulator (The Tourism Board).

Section 19 of the Namibia Tourism Board Act provides that any person who provides accommodation to a tourist in an accommodation establishment which is not registered under Section 20, commits an offence, and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding N$20 000 (€1 216) or to imprisonment, not exceeding two years, or both.

Bonnie Mbidzo, Head: Industry Services for Namibia Tourism Board said: “The Namibia Tourism Board is not against Airbnb but we are encouraging all citizens to comply with the laws regulating accommodation for paying guests.”

Mbidzo said that over the years Namibia has experienced an increase in travellers making use of registered accommodation establishments; however it is difficult to state whether the use of Airbnb has increased as hosts do not submit statistical levy return forms.

“We welcome short-term rental services, such as Airbnb. There are a lot of Airbnb subscribers in Namibia who are registered with the Namibia Tourism Board,” concludes Mbidzo.