Tourism

Tourism body calls for clampdown on Airbnb

Tourism Council WA has called for changes to the short-stay accommodation sector to ensure fair competition across the market and maintain visitor expenditure and tourism jobs across the state.

Evan Hall, CEO of Tourism Council WA appeared before the Parliamentary Inquiry into Short-Stay Accommodation yesterday to represent the views of the tourism industry.

Hall said research by the industry body shows that by and large, residential properties on Airbnb do not increase visitation to Western Australia.

“No one visits websites like Airbnb to work out where they are going on holiday – they have already decided and are just looking for accommodation,” he said.

The Tourism Council WA chief argued that hotels and other traditional short-stay accommodation providers were at a competitive disadvantage to residential property investors renting out their properties in 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,” 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.

Hall noted that 72 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.

Furthermore, 78 per cent of those surveyed agreed that there should be state-wide consistent regulation.

Hall said residential and commercial properties were treated differently by regulators in order to enhance residential housing affordability, and the short-stay renting of residential properties could drive down housing affordability.

“Renting an unhosted residential dwelling on a short-stay basis for commercial gain for even one night means the dwelling is no longer available for long-term residence by an owner or tenant,” he said.

While the short-stay renting of residential dwellings can contribute positively to a destination, most residential short-stay accommodation is unhosted, according to Hall.

“Hosted properties that provide a genuine local, unique experience can increase the appeal of a destination,” he said.

“But accommodation does not drive destination demand. Demand is driven by events, visitor experiences and destination marketing.”

Tourism Council WA’s recommendations include:

  • Introducing a state register of residential short-stay accommodation, with residential properties required to meet insurance, hosting and disability access standards as well as agree to a code of conduct to be listed on the register.
  • Hosted short stays in residential houses (Class 1) should be approved.
  • Apartment buildings (Class 2) without disability access should not be approved for short-stay letting.
  • Unhosted short stays in residential properties should not be approved.
  • Registered residential short-stay accommodation should be required to pay a fee supporting the costs of compliance, contribute to destination marketing and equal the contribution of accommodation providers paying GST. Fines should apply for online platforms listing unregistered properties.
  • Amend building standards and planning regulations so commercial short-stay accommodation is permitted where residential short-stay accommodation is being allowed, to ensure an even playing field.

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