Airbnb up 97pc in 2 years

Geraldton Guardian - - Front Page - Tamra Carr

On­line hos­pi­tal­ity mar­ket­place Airbnb has been dis­rupt­ing Western Aus­tralia’s tra­di­tional tourism in­dus­try, a re­cent Curtin Univer­sity re­port has found.

The US-based com­pany has grown its Ger­ald­ton list­ings 97 per cent since 2015, lat­est fig­ures show, with the typ­i­cal lo­cal Airbnb host earn­ing $2200 a year.

City of Greater Ger­ald­ton Mayor Shane Van Styn said con­ven­tional forms of ac­com­mo­da­tion such as ho­tels would have to learn to com­pete with home­own­ers rent­ing their pri­vate res­i­dences to vis­i­tors.

“They will have to and, in or­der to do so, higher ser­vice of­fer­ings will have to be made,” he said.

“This is the way the world is mov­ing and as a pro­gres­sive city we sup­port all new and emerg­ing in­dus­tries.”

Progress Mid­west gen­eral man­ager Tr­ish Pal­monari also weighed in, stat­ing Airbnb could be ben­e­fi­cial to Ger­ald­ton’s econ­omy, but tra­di­tional forms of ac­com­mo­da­tion would still have their place within the re­gion.

“Per­son­ally, any­thing that sup­ports bring­ing peo­ple and dol­lars into our lo­cal econ­omy has got be a good thing for the com­mu­nity,” she said.

“How­ever, hav­ing stayed in a num­ber of Airbnbs over the years both in Aus­tralia and over­seas, the big­gest risk with choos­ing Airbnb is around the con­sis­tent qual­ity of the ac­com­mo­da­tion be­ing pro­vided.

“The con­sis­tent pro­vi­sion of qual­ity ac­com­mo­da­tion is where the ho­tel, mo­tel and car­a­van parks will al­ways have their place.”

In 2016, more than 2800 vis­i­tors to Ger­ald­ton used an Airbnb host.

Mr Van Styn said the on­line hos­pi­tal­ity plat­form was yet to be con­sid­ered as a strong eco­nomic driver in Ger­ald­ton but it was a phe­nom­e­non to watch.

“Tourism has been iden­ti­fied in the Grow­ing Greater Ger­ald­ton Plan as one of our ex­ist­ing traded sec­tors of the re­gional econ­omy, with sig­nif­i­cant growth po­ten­tial, and Progress Mid­west has es­tab­lished a tourism task force which is ex­am­in­ing all op­tions to develop tourist at­trac­tions and growth op­tions,” he said.

“Airbnb has not been specif­i­cally iden­ti­fied at this stage as a pri­mary growth driver but, in ex­am­in­ing how we stim­u­late tourism growth, it may emerge as a fac­tor to con­sider.

“We are con­scious of how the Airbnb phe­nom­e­non has cre­ated need for new pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory ar­range­ments at some east coast tourism cen­tres, such as the Sun­shine Coast, and have a watch­ing brief on those de­vel­op­ments.”

Airbnb con­trib­uted $100 mil­lion to WA’s Gross State Prod­uct in the 2015-16 fi­nan­cial year, with guests spend­ing $155 mil­lion in WA on things such as food ser­vices, shop­ping and leisure.

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