Dubai: The Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism) has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with home-sharing firm Airbnb in a move to help promote responsible hosting, and grow and diversify tourism in Dubai.

The MoU is expected to enhance and diversify the holiday homes sector and increase competition “through a safe and transparent holiday home segment”, according to a statement from Dubai Tourism on Wednesday.

This comes after the tourism department announced last month the easing of holiday home regulations, which means that now home owners can apply for a holiday home license without going through an approved operator if they meet certain criteria. Also, tenants renting property can lease their home as a holiday home with a short-term permit if they present a no objection certificate from their landlord and meet other requirements.

Under the agreement, Airbnb will inform all host members of the Dubai Tourism regulations through its website and email reminders and share aggregated, anonymised data about short-term rental hosts. Airbnb and Dubai Tourism will also look at joint marketing and promotional activations for Dubai.

“In keeping with global demand trends and a highly digitised market place for key enablers of tourism infrastructure, we are pleased to partner with Airbnb, a pioneer in this space, to help promote diverse accommodation options to our visitors in a safe, secure and controlled manner,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of Dubai Tourism.

Airbnb helps tourists find cheap accommodation in sought-after locations. There are almost 3,500 Airbnb listings in Dubai. The growth of the company has threatened many hotels globally since it is undercutting their prices.

Dubai Tourism has upgraded its application portal to facilitate the new license applications, and will allow for all e-commerce payments to be done digitally in the short term.