Date
25 May 2017
The Airbnb website carries advertisements for rooms aboard Hong Kong-based yachts. Some users said the boat they rented had rats on deck. Photo: Airbnb.com
The Airbnb website carries advertisements for rooms aboard Hong Kong-based yachts. Some users said the boat they rented had rats on deck. Photo: Airbnb.com

HK yachts turned into unlicensed hotel rooms for HK$700 a night

Some yacht owners have turned their boats into hotel rooms for as little as HK$700 a night in violation of city ordinances.

At least 10 advertisements have been posted by local yacht owners on the Airbnb website, an online marketplace for travel accommodation, Headline Daily reported on Friday.

The yachts on offer are parked at Sham Wan, Sai Kung and Lantau Island with prices ranging from HK$700 to over HK$3,000 a night.

The advertisements carry photos and detailed descriptions of the yachts and their facilities, check-in and check-out time, transportation and tourist spots nearby, as well as do’s and don’ts such as smoking is only allowed on the deck.

An English owner said he has two yachts parked in Sham Wan which could be rented at HK$900 to HK$1,100 per room/night.

In their testimonials, some users sent compliments about the facilities on board as well as the convenience of renting a bedroom on a yacht.

However, another user said the boat they rented was poorly maintained and had rats on deck.

One user complained about the inconvenience of riding on a sampan to get to the yacht.

The Marine Department said there are only four licensed dwelling vessels in Hong Kong at present and all other boats cannot be used as hotel rooms.

According to the Merchant Shipping (Local Vessels) (Certification and Licensing) Regulation, yachts can only be used for entertainment.

Yacht owners, agents and captains could be fined up to HK$10,000 if the boats are found to have been used for accommodation.

Over the last three years, the Marine Department has prosecuted only one yacht owner, who was subsequently slapped with a HK$2,000 fine.

The Home Affairs Department said it has never issued any hotel or guesthouse license to yachts under the Hotel and Guesthouse Accommodation Ordinance.

Any hotel or guesthouse must meet relevant structural and fire protection requirements in order to be awarded an operation license.

Airbnb levies a 6 to 12 percent commission from the booking fees of travelers, in addition to a 3 percent cut from the yacht owner’s service fees.

Since Airbnb is registered overseas, its operations are not monitored by the Travel Industry Council. Also, the Hong Kong government cannot ban its website operation.

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EL/AC/CG

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