Airbnb up 97pc in 2 years
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.