Level play­ing field call for Airbnb

Augusta Margaret River Times - - News - Sarah Ison

Re­search shows Airbnb ac­com­mo­da­tion is more “pro­fes­sion­alised” in the Mar­garet River re­gion than any­where else in the State, prompt­ing calls from tra­di­tional op­er­a­tors for le­gal in­ter­ven­tion.

Op­er­a­tors want to see multi-listed Airbnbs meet the same checks and bal­ances re­quired of the wider ac­com­mo­da­tion sec­tor.

The re­search was pre­sented last week by Curtin Uni­ver­sity Asso- ciate Pro­fes­sor Christof Pforr and se­nior re­search fel­low Dr Michael Volgger, who said 75 per cent of South West list­ings of­fered whole homes, com­pared to 60 per cent in Perth. While fewer than 20 per cent of WA Airbnb hosts of­fered mul­ti­ple prop­er­ties, the fig­ure jumped to 30 per cent in the Mar­garet River re­gion, stray­ing from the ser­vices’s in­for­mal roots.

The find­ings sparked con­cerns among tra­di­tional op­er­a­tors who didn’t mind in­creased com­pe­ti­tion, but said hosts should fol­low in­dus­try rules and reg­u­la­tions.

Si­esta Park man­ager Jane Tickle said the new trends were dis­re­spect­ful to tra­di­tional providers who were “al­ways mak­ing sure to do the right thing”. “Airbnb used to be just a bed for $80 in a lo­cal’s house, and now the whole thing is be­ing blurred,” she said.

Qual­ity Inn Mar­garet River chief ex­ec­u­tive Justin Hick­man said “pro­fes­sion­al­i­sa­tion” should be an all-or-noth­ing deal. “Turn­ing a prop­erty into a busi­ness means pay­ing busi­ness rates, in­sur­ance, en­sur­ing fire reg­u­la­tions are up to check, locks are on all the doors, elec­tric­ity is up to com­mer­cial stan­dards,” he said.

The re­port recog­nised the Mar­garet River re­gion as one of WA’s “hotspots” for Airbnb users.

Mar­garet River-Bus­sel­ton Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion act­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Steve Har­ri­son said there was agree­ment among mem­bers on the need for “a level play­ing field for all ac­com­mo­da­tion providers in­clud­ing those us­ing the Airbnb plat­form”. He said the key to man­ag­ing Airbnb’s evo­lu­tion was ef­fec­tive mon­i­tor­ing and bal­anc­ing in­ter­ests.

“MRBTA be­lieves it is im­por­tant all Govern­ment pol­icy-mak­ers and lo­cal busi­nesses con­tinue to mon­i­tor the im­pact of Airbnb and find the right bal­ance,” he said. Tell us what you think! Email your let­ters to edi­tor@am­r­times.com.au.

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