Sat, Jul 14, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Kaohsiung cuts off water, electricity to illegal lodgings

By Jake Chung  /  Staff writer, with CNA

The Kaohsiung City Government on Thursday cut electricity and water supply to an establishment in Zuoying District (左營) that it flagged as an illicit day-rental that continued operation despite orders to close.

Cutting utilities was part of municipal efforts to shut down illegal hotels and hostels, the Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau said.

The municipality has stepped up inspections to remove illicit day-rentals, the bureau said.

All illicit establishments have been fined in accordance with the Tourism Development Act (發展觀光條例) and ordered to terminate operations, it said.

The bureau last year issued 164 fines, totaling NT$24 million (US$785,443), for illicit operations of short-term lodgings, director Tseng Tzu-wen (曾姿雯) said.

The lodgings could not guarantee the safety of their guests and the municipality could not ascertain whether the buildings complied with safety and fire standards, Tseng said.

Insurance, escape routes and sanitation were also concerns, Tseng said.

Property owners usually advertise their establishments online and limit direct contact with guests by using cellphones, she said, adding that it helps them avoid government oversight.

The opaqueness of such transactions would complicate compensation procedures should there be an accident or consumer dispute, Tseng said.

The bureau would regularly examine Web sites to help identify illegal operations, Tseng said, adding that the bureau has asked operators such as Booking.com, Expedia, Agoda and TripAdvisor to remove flagged establishments.

The bureau is in talks with Airbnb over the possibility of removing guesthouses that are operating illegally and pose a public safety hazard, she said.

The bureau’s Web site carries a full list of approved operators and prospective guests should check for proof of government registration before booking rooms, Tseng said.

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