Hotels

Airbnb slams tourism council’s “one-size-fits-all” recommendations for short-stay sector

Home-sharing platform Airbnb has hit back at Tourism Council WA’s proposed changes to the short-stay accommodation sector, arguing its plan “strikes a better balance”.

Tourism Council WA’s recommendations, which were presented by CEO Evan Hall at the Parliamentary Inquiry into Short-Stay Accommodation earlier this week, include introducing a state register of residential short-stay accommodation.

Residential properties would be required to meet insurance, hosting and disability access standards, as well as agree to a code of conduct, to be listed on the register proposed by the tourism council.

However, Airbnb has returned serve ahead of its appearance at the inquiry, saying the home-sharing platform’s “fair plan” to regulate home sharing strikes a better balance.

“Like the AHAWA, the WA Tourism Council want one-size-fits all rules and blanket bans,” Airbnb’s head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Brent Thomas, said in a statement to Travel Weekly.

“They want to ban all holiday homes and remove people’s choice about how they use their homes and how they holiday.”

“Make no mistake, less choice will mean higher prices.

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

Airbnb’s comments come after rival home-sharing platform Stayz called on the WA Parliament to implement a series of state-wide reforms to holiday letting laws.

On Tuesday, Stayz corporate affairs director Eacham Curry said getting the rules of the holiday rental industry right will help the WA Government turbocharge the state’s tourism economy.

“Across Western Australia, the holiday rental industry drove $412.7 million dollars of economic growth and supported 2,430 jobs in 2017/18,” he said in a statment.

“With the right laws, holiday rentals could help bring the WA tourism economy out of the doldrums and back onto growth footing.

“Stayz recognises the need for consistent ground rules across the entire holiday rental industry. Our proposals will ensure that local communities have certainty that complaints about noise, over-crowding or anti-social behaviour will be dealt with swiftly and decisively.

Curry said any regulatory solution for holiday rentals must be underpinned by a state-wide register of all short-term rental listings.

“Without this important component, governments and communities will remain in the dark about the boundaries of the burgeoning holiday rental sector,” he said.

“We believe this important step towards transparency will ensure governments, communities and our industry can work together on questions of amenity rules, urban planning and infrastructure.

“Our proposals recognise the fact that holiday homes have been an important tradition for countless families for many decades. Punitive regulation could see the end of this pastime and curtail the economic uplift associated with the tourism economy.

“Night caps, punitive rules or other use restrictions will make it hard for mum and dad investors to let out their own holiday homes to the detriment of the west’s tourism economy.

“They also fail to address the three most consistently cited concerns about the industry; namely housing affordability, availability and the impact on amenity.

“We stand ready to work with the WA Parliament and wider industry to build a regulatory solution that helps to grow the West’s tourism economy for the benefit of the whole community.”

Stayz’s key state-wide policy recommendations for the West Australian Parliament are:

  • Compulsory and simple registration for all properties listed on a short-term rental accommodation platform.
  • The creation of a mandatory short-term rental code of conduct for owners and managers, including a ‘three strikes’ rule for those who do not meet the standards.
  • A new largely industry-funded and administered body to quickly address problems and adjudicate questions about amenity, noise and overcrowding at short-term rental accommodation properties.

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