Mexico tourist deaths add to calls for vacation rental regulation
A vacation to watch the Mexican Grand Prix ended in tragedy for one tourist poisoned by carbon monoxide, fueling calls for regulation of popular accommodation rental websites like Airbnb and Booking.com.
In October, Angelica Arce, 29, traveled to Mexico City with her two younger siblings from Tijuana, a border city in the northwest of Mexico, to watch the Formula One race.
They used Booking.com to rent a one-bedroom apartment for a short stay.
Carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless gas that can be dangerous to human health and was leaking from a water heater that had been poorly installed, was present inside.
The three were taken to the hospital when they began to feel unwell.
Arce passed away on October 30 at dawn.
Gloria Ojeda, her mother, said, “May her death not be in vain.”
Arce is just one of several people who have died in Mexico City recently due to suspected carbon monoxide leaks. As a result, there is more pressure on the government to immediately regulate online vacation rentals.
According to authorities, four young people died in private accommodations in Mexico City rented through Airbnb and Booking.com at the end of October.
Although the boyfriend of one of the victims was not convinced, the prosecution claimed that gas poisoning caused the deaths of three tourists from the United States in an apartment.
He stated that prior to returning to the lodging, his girlfriend had informed him that she had the impression that she had been drugged.
“How many more deaths?”
The issue of taxes has been the sole focus of the regulations that have been implemented in Mexico City for online vacation rentals thus far.
Ojeda stated to AFP, “I don’t understand what the authorities are waiting for.”
How many more deaths do they wish to cause? She inquired.
People have been reassured by Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum that regulations for the sector are being developed.
Ojeda wants them to define who is responsible in the event of a crisis or tragedy.
She stated, “The apartment owner hasn’t even sent us a message to say “I’m sorry.”
Booking.com has communicated with the family through email and phone calls from its Amsterdam headquarters.
Ojeda stated that the company compensated the employee with a $600 voucher for a refund.
Arce’s family hired a lawyer to keep an eye on the official investigation and try to get compensation from Booking.com and the property owner.
I don’t want someone else to go through what I went through. Ojeda cried and said, “It seems like such an absurd death.”
According to Cecilia Rodriguez, the family’s attorney, there has been little progress so far in the absence of a law that establishes obligations for rental platforms and owners.
She stated that the companies that offer rentals online “should also be required to have offices in Mexico, so that they take responsibility for any contingency.”
Frida Guillen, a member of the opposition, is hoping that the capital’s legislature will vote this month on proposals that were inspired by a law in the central state of Guanajuato, which is another popular tourist destination in Mexico.
She stated, “We want owners to meet requirements like being in a registry of service providers, providing guarantees for security and civil protection, having insurance, and that the platforms act as a supportive third party.”
A growing number of foreign tourists and people renting apartments online are flocking to Mexico City.
Between the second quarter of 2019 and the same time in 2022, Airbnb reported a 30% increase in long-term stays in the Mexican capital.
The company announced a partnership with the government of Mexico City toward the end of October to promote the capital as a destination for remote workers.
There has been more competition for housing as a result of the influx of digital nomads, which has led some locals to complain that they have been evicted by landlords chasing higher rental payments.
Hector Flores is concerned that when his lease for an apartment comes to an end in August, he will have no choice but to relocate.
The playwright, 30, and his roommate, a freelance actor, pay $500 per month to live in Mexico City’s downtown.
Airbnb rents are twice as expensive in buildings across the street.
Flores stated, “There is a lot of uncertainty.”