With the deadline for submissions to the state government’s inquiry into short-stay accommodation looming on January 25, accommodation stakeholders have reiterated they simply want to ‘level the playing field’, not bring down booking sites or holiday homes.
The inquiry has prompted holiday home booking giant Airbnb to ask its hosts to lobby politicians.
In an email to its hosts, Airbnb said the Australian Hotels Association wanted to ‘ban holiday homes’ and ‘burden hosts with extreme red tape’.
Association WA chief executive officer Bradley Woods said Airbnb had misrepresented the position of the association in order to distract from the fact they simply didn’t want to play by the same rules that were expected of other accommodation providers.
“Bed and Breakfasts, hotels, motels, holiday homes and even boarding and lodging houses are required to be registered – Airbnb properties should also be required to meet such basic requirements,” he said.
“We are confident that WA Parliamentarians understand that tens of thousands of WA jobs rely on the regulated accommodation sector and that it is in no one’s interest to see a multi-billion dollar company put these jobs at risk.
“Australians value the concept of a fair go. For too long, regulated accommodation providers have been denied a fair go because of companies like Airbnb that knowingly list unregulated accommodation and thumb their nose at the rules that others are expected to abide by.”
Registered Accommodation Providers of the Margaret River Region member Debbie Noonan said accommodation providers weren’t against booking platforms, rather they were against Airbnb’s disregard for rules and regulations.
“We aren’t against the people who use the site, or are on the site, we are against the company who don’t tell their users the real truth,” she said.
“They hide the need for their hosts to be registered, they hide that they need different insurance, there are people who don’t realise that renting a room is in breach of their loans, there are a whole pile of rules that people don’t realise.
“People are running unaware that they are in danger of losing their home if something goes wrong. For those of us that have been in tourism for a long time, it makes us angry that this company is putting people’s lives and livelihoods at risk.”
Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy ANZ Brent Thomas said they welcomed the inquiry.
“Our community has long argued the current rules for home sharing are out-of-date and acting as a handbrake on growth. The way people travel and use their homes has changed, and the rules should change as well,” he said.
The Margaret River Busselton Tourism Association submitted their policy statement on holiday homes to the parliamentary inquiry.
It stated changes to ‘level the playing field’, including equal regulatory standards, payment of rates equivalent to existing commercial properties, and thorough ‘policing’ of compliance, would create a fairer system and raise the hurdle for home owners considering offering their houses to paying guests.
“It is important to note that often the term ‘Airbnb’ is used to refer to holiday homes operating illegally,” it said.
“It is important to note that many holiday homes, and traditional accommodation for that matter, utilise travel distribution platforms like Airbnb, booking.com or Stayz, and are complying with local government laws.
“Having said this, holiday homes do have an unfair advantage over traditional accommodation to the degree that they are not required to meet the same government regulation, or pay rates and levies consistent with the commercial nature of their operation.
“The MRBTA is supportive of approaches that seek to level the playing field between holiday homes and traditional accommodation.”
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