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Local News Summary of February, 14th

  • Mr Jin's famous Asian food makes a comeback
  • Airbnb and canton of Baselland agree on tax
  • Governments of both Basels put pressure on France concerning train access to EuroAirport

Mr Jin's famous Asian food makes a comeback

Last month, Mr Jin’s street food stall at Pfluggässlein was shut down after eleven years of business. However, fans of his dumplings and other delicacies can now find him at his new premises, “Mei Mei” at Gerbergässlein 26.

The reason for a delay in the conversion of the new premises was a late construction permit: the display windows will be adjusted so that food can be handed out through the window. But Mr Jin’s faithful customers will not have to wait until the conversion is finished. Freshly made Chinese food will be sold in the shop as of today (Wednesday).

Freshly made and affordable

For today’s opening, Mr Jin will offer little snacks to customers. While he takes care of the culinary needs of his guests, Ms Mei will sell a variety of Chinese teas as well as a selection of clothes and jewellery.

To celebrate this new beginning, Mr Jin and his wife want to offer special prices to their customers in the first month. Students will also get a discount. The shop will be open from Monday to Friday 11.30am-7pm, and on Saturdays from 11.30am-5.30pm.

Airbnb and canton of Baselland agree on tax

An agreement has been reached between the canton of Baselland and Airbnb on how much tax people should pay for offering their homes for rent on the Internet platform.

Starting from 1st April, Baselland Airbnb will automatically collect guest tax from those who rent out their homes, with the fee to be given to Baselland Tourismus, they announced on Tuesday in a joint statement.

Baselland is the second canton after Zug to make such an agreement. Zug Tourismus reached such an agreement with Airbnb in mid-2017.
Each guest in Baselland will pay a tax of 3.50 Swiss francs and for this they will receive an unlimited ticket from the Tariff Association of Northwest Switzerland, as well as a guest pass which gives discounts for around 50 leisure and tourist facilities.
The money is also expected to help “purposefully develop” tourist offers in the canton, the press release said. More than forty projects have been supported since the tax was introduced for hotel guests in 2014.

Less effort for hosts

Airbnb refers to the fact that hosts have to pay the guest tax anyway, with less effort. “The digital taxing process secures an unbroken usage of the cantonal guest tax law in a very efficient way,” said Tobias Eggimann, manager of Baselland Tourismus.

According to Airbnb, most hosts are private owners who rent out a single room in their home or sometimes the entire flat when they are out of town. Professional hosts such as those who own bed & breakfasts also use the platform as an extra way to find new customers. In 2017, Airbnb registered 3700 arrivals from all over the world in Baselland.

Long negotiations

If such agreements bring only advantages for hosts, it can be asked why these negotiations with cantonal tourist organisations took so long to achieve. Negotiations with several other cantons and a number of cities have been ongoing for years.

There is also a dispute around the guest tax since professional providers of flats and rooms demand to be treated equally by private competitors, not just in terms of taxes but also in terms of hygiene and fire protection requirements.

Such negotiations are complex since every canton has different conditions. In general, cantons have to be ready for an agreement and it was not possible to carry it out “immediately”, a spokesperson told the SDA news agency. “We observe constructive talks mostly since Switzerland is positive about digitisation.”

Big tourist magnet cantons still not on board

Zug Tourismus drew a positive balance in mid-January, six months after the agreement was made with Airbnb. The automatic processing of the tax for private holiday accommodation was working as agreed, they said. Zug Tourismus also registered a plus in overnight stays as a result of its collaboration with Airbnb.

Nevertheless, agreements for automatic taxing are still missing in the big tourist cantons of Valais, Grisons, Bern, and Ticino. Airbnb is maintaining a dialogue about similar agreements with further cantons. The spokesperson could not confirm which cantons would follow and when.

Governments of both Basels put pressure on France concerning train access to EuroAirport

In a letter to the French minister for traffic, Elisabeth Borne, both Basel governments have expressed their astonishment that the train access to EuroAirport (EAP) has not been prioritised. The Basel governments are jointly calling for a binding statement for financing the railway access to the airport.

In their letter, the governments of Basel-Stadt and Baselland addressed the “low grade” of prioritisation of the railway access to the airport in the recently published “Rapport Duron” report.

They emphasise that the project has a high impact and has been supported both by France and Switzerland jointly. They express their expectation of the French and state that they give a binding statement for financing the railway access of EAP within their programme for investment into public transport.

The Duron Report makes recommendations to the French government of what it should prioritise in its infrastructure plans. Only one out of the three options contains the French state making a financial contribution to the railway access to the airport. This is surprising since many parties have signalled their readiness to help financing the project, the letter stated.

The Swiss federal government has set aside a contribution in the consultation process for the next construction stage - 2030/35. The cantons of Basel-Stadt and Baselland have earlier signalled the possibility of co-financing the project.

Against this background, the two cantonal governments of Basel-Stadt and Baselland expect a binding financial contribution for the project railway access EAP in the investment programme by the French state. The EAP has a high economic impact on the region and Alsace, the letter to the French minister stated.

The two Basel governments added: “The EAP is not just an important employer but also warrants a good access to Basel and the region. The governments of Basel-Stadt and Baselland consider the railway access as central to the development of the airport. The EAP is the only Swiss airport without railway access.”