13/02/2019 - 15:56

Tourism Council calls for Airbnb regulation

13/02/2019 - 15:56

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Western Australia’s peak tourism body has called for greater restrictions on short-stay accommodation providers claiming residential properties on Airbnb do not increase visitation to the state.

Tourism Council calls for Airbnb regulation
Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into short-stay accommodation today.

Western Australia’s peak tourism body has called for greater restrictions on short-stay accommodation providers, claiming residential properties on Airbnb do not increase visitation to the state.

Tourism Council WA chief executive Evan Hall appeared before the parliamentary inquiry into short-stay accommodation today.

He said no-one visited websites such as Airbnb to work out where they were going on holiday.

“They have already decided and are just looking for accommodation,” Mr Hall said.

He said hotels and other traditional short-stay accommodation providers were at a competitive disadvantage to residential property investors renting their properties on the short-stay market.

“Traditional short-stay accommodation providers like hotels incur costs to meet regulatory compliance, pay taxes, and contribute to destination marketing to attract visitors to their destination,” Mr Hall said.                                                             

“Residential dwellings being let through online travel agents do not pay taxes, do not meet standards such as disability access, but still reap the benefits of destination marketing without contributing.

“Seventy-two per cent of Tourism Council WA members surveyed agreed that residential dwellings offering short-stay accommodation are unfair competition and regulation should be effectively and equally enforced.

“Seventy-eight per cent agreed that there should be state-wide consistent regulation.”

He said independent economic analysis commissioned by Tourism Council WA showed Airbnb cost the state $300 million in gross state product and 2,800 jobs in 2018.

Airbnb commissioned its own modelling from Deloitte, which found Airbnb guests who stayed in WA spent more than $155.1 million, supported 780 local jobs and contributed $99.7 million to gross state product.

Mr Hall acknowledged hosted properties that provided a genuine local experience could increase the appeal of a destination, but said most residential short-stay accommodation was not hosted.

Tourism Council WA has made several policy recommendations including introducing a state register of residential short-stay accommodation with properties required to meet insurance, hosting and disability standards and agree to a code of conduct and allowing hosted short stays in residential houses to be approved but prohibiting stays which are not hosted.

It also suggested people who host should be required to pay a fee and to amend building standards and planning regulations so commercial short-stay accommodation is permitted where residential short-stay is allowed.

Airbnb Australia and New Zealand head of public policy Brent Thomas said that, like the Australian Hotel’s Association WA, the WA Tourism Council wanted one-size-fits-all rules and blanket bans.

“Our fair plan to regulate home sharing strikes a better balance,” he said.

“Our plan would protect people’s choice of how they use their home or holiday while addressing community and industry concerns.”

Airbnb has submitted its own plan to the inquiry calling for state wide rules, a sliding scale of regulation depending on whether a person is sharing their own home, a holiday home or a non-primary residence, fair new powers for strata and a mandatory code of conduct.

The inquiry is investigating the adequacy of the regulation of short-stay accommodation in the state including the issues of customer safety, insurance, land use planning, building standards, stay lengths, neighbourhood amenity, registration, licensing and taxation.

The committee will hear from Airbnb on February 20.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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