Mexico tourist deaths add to calls for vacation rental regulation

One tourist was poisoned by carbon monoxide while on vacation to Mexico for the Mexican Grand Prix. This tragedy has led to calls for regulation of accommodation rental sites like Airbnb and Booking.com.

Angelica Arce (29), traveled to Mexico City in October with her younger siblings from Tijuana, a northern Mexican border city, to see the Formula One motor racing.

They rented a short-term apartment via the online booking platform Booking.com.

A poorly installed water heater had sprung a leak, releasing carbon monoxide, which is a colorless and odorless gas that could pose a deadly threat to human health.

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They all felt unwell and were admitted to hospital.

Arce was killed in the early hours of October 30, 1998.

Gloria Ojeda, Gloria’s mother, said that “May her death not go unpunished.”

Arce is one of many people who were killed in recent carbon monoxide poisonings in Mexico City. This has increased the pressure on authorities to regulate online vacation rentals.

According to authorities, there were four deaths in October from private accommodations rented through Airbnb or Booking.com in Mexico City.

Prosecutors claimed that three Americans died in an apartment from gas poisoning. However, the boyfriend of one victim was not convinced.

He claimed that his girlfriend told him she felt like a drug addict before she returned to the accommodation.

– “How many more deaths?”

Mexico City has so far only introduced regulations for online vacation rentals.

Ojeda said to AFP, “I don’t understand what authorities are waiting for.”

She asked, “How many more death do they want?”

Claudia Sheinbaum, Mexico City’s Mayor, has promised that regulations are being developed for this sector.

Ojeda asks them to identify their responsibilities in the event of tragedies or problems.

She said that the apartment owner hadn’t sent a message to apologize.

The family exchanged emails and got a call from Booking.com’s headquarters in Amsterdam.

Ojeda stated that the company offered $600 in compensation.

– Influx digital nomads

Arce’s family hired a lawyer for surveillance of the official investigation, and to seek compensation from Booking.com and the property owner.

“I don’t want what happened in my life to happen to anyone else.” Ojeda broke down in tears, saying that it seemed like an absurd death.

According to Cecilia Rodriguez, the lawyer for the Rodriguez family, there has been little progress in the absence a law that imposes obligations on rental platforms and owners.

She stated that online rental companies should also have Mexican offices to ensure they are fully responsible for any contingencies.

Frida Guillen, an opposition lawmaker, hopes that the capital’s legislature votes on this month’s proposals inspired by a Guanajuato law. This is another popular tourist destination in Mexico.

She stated that she wanted owners to comply with requirements, such as being registered as service providers, providing security and civil protection guarantees and having insurance. The platforms should also act as a supporting third party.

Mexico City is increasingly popular with tourists and foreigners who rent accommodation via online platforms.

Airbnb reported a 30% increase in long-term stay in Mexico City between the second quarter 2019 and the same time in 2022.

The company announced a partnership agreement with Mexico City to promote Mexico City as a destination for remote workers at the end of October.

The influx of digital nomads has created more competition for accommodation. Some locals have complained that they were evicted from their homes by landlords who are chasing higher rent payments.

Hector Flores is afraid that he will need to search for a new place when his August apartment rental contract ends.

A 30-year-old playwright with a roommate, a freelance actor pays $500 per month to live in downtown Mexico City.

Rents from Airbnb are twice as expensive in neighboring buildings.

Flores stated that there is a lot uncertainty.