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Guest-house owner loses hotel fight

Other B&Bs may be targeted after tribunal’s ‘unfair competition’ ruling that said owner must register business

HOTELIERS in Dordogne have won a court battle against a guest-house owner – with the B&B owner being obliged to register at the Chambre de Commerce as a business.

The hoteliers federation, Union des Métiers et des Industries de l’Hôtellerie (Umih), had complained about unfair competition to the tribunal de commerce.

Umih said that the guesthouse – which had five rooms for guests plus other furnished accommodation – was being operated as a regular business and should abide by the same regulations as hotels.

Jean-Luc Bousquet, of Umih, told Sud-Ouest the verdict was important as it was “a first win in Dordogne” and that they intended to target another dozen B&B operators in the department as they were taking away business from hotels by operating “undeclared businesses”.

However, Mr Bousquet admitted that the law was not very clear as it obliged guest-house owners to declare they were running a commercial business if it was “operating habitually” and they were offering two or more services to guests, but did not clarify how this was judged.

He added that the registration could be done on the commercial register, at the Chambre de l’Agriculture or as an auto-entrepreneur, although all people offering accommodation, on whatever scale, should declare themselves at their mairie, even if not running a business.

Dordogne departmental tourism director Christophe Gravier told the paper that he had contacted the ministry of trade and commerce for clarification but nothing had so far come back to him.

The department welcomes three million visitors a year, bringing in €1.4billion. It has 222 hotels offering 8,699 beds – while there are, from tourism department figures, 3,000 guest-houses with 4,439 beds between them.

Mr Bousquet told Sud-Ouest that it was a real loss of business for hotels, but he recognised that guest-houses were targeting a different market. He said he did not want to get rid of them “just to get their owners to play by the same rules” as the hoteliers did.
Photo: Gites de France

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