South West tourism accommodation operators say its an 'unfair playing field'

A South West accommodation provider has said that the number of holiday homes allowed to operate in the region had created an ‘unfair playing field’ which was affecting their business.

A Perth-based operator built a home in Dunsborough in 2003 to let as short-stay accommodation, which meant he paid commercial rates for his property and could use it up to three months in any year.

The City of Busselton recently released a draft holiday home policy, which sought to allow residents to register their home as a holiday home (for commercial gain) providing they met certain criteria.

The Dunsborough accommodation provider, who wished to remain anonymous, said it created an unfair playing field when commercial short stay providers were located in a tourist zone and charged commercial rates.

“We need to tourists to survive, the South West has become an open slather, it really has become an uneven playing field,” the operator said.

The accommodation provider said registered business had to adhere to strict bylaws on how they operated, but there were no controls for residential homes in residential areas.

“The proposal raises serious concerns for existing tourist zoned accommodation infrastructure and the gross impingement on permanent residents in residential zoned areas,” he said.

“Needless to say it will have a dramatic effect on legitimate tourist accommodation and will affect infrastructure, revenue and employment.

“[Holiday homes] are or will be an income producing business and should be treated as such. If not, why are we paying commercial rates?”

City of Busselton director of planning and development services Paul Needham said tourist accommodation in the ‘tourism’ zone were subject to a higher differential rate, as were sites in other commercial zones.

Mr Needham said there were six different categories which distinguished accommodation places with holiday homes being described as a residential property which could be let on a short term (holiday) basis.

“The annual holiday home fee is $364 for first year and $242.50 for subsequent renewal,” he said.

“The initial development approval will cost $295 with an additional $121 if referral is required to adjoining landowners prior to determination.”

Mr Needham said the fees associated with a new registration for a lodging house up to 14 lodgers was $364 with an annual renewal fee of $242.50 where a lodging house with 15 lodgers or more attracts an application fee of $520 and annual registration fee of $348.