Coun­cils go af­ter tourism levies

Airbnb shuts door on ad­dress-shar­ing plan

The Gympie Times - - NEWS - Sherele Moody Sherele.Moody@news­re­gional­me­dia.com.au

AIRBNB has shut the door on “un­fair” plans to force more than 19,000 Queens­land home-own­ers to pay coun­cil-im­posed tourism levies when they rent their prop­er­ties out to hol­i­day-mak­ers.

The on­line book­ing agency has con­firmed it will fight a bid to have on­line book­ing agen­cies hand over clients’ street ad­dresses to lo­cal gov­ern­ments want­ing to stop short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion providers cash­ing in on re­gional tourism pro­mo­tions be­cause they do not con­trib­ute to them.

Most Queens­land coun­cils have a tourism levy that reg­is­tered hol­i­day busi­nesses con­trib­ute to.

The levies are used to pro­mote lo­cal gov­ern­ment ar­eas to tourists in Aus­tralia and over­seas.

The move, which re­quires State Gov­ern­ment leg­is­la­tion, also means un­reg­is­tered short-term hol­i­day land­lords would have to ad­here to lo­cal laws im­posed on reg­is­tered tourism op­er­a­tors.

Noosa Shire Coun­cil is lead­ing the charge, say­ing it has asked Airbnb and other on­line book­ing out­lets to pro­vide ad­dresses but they refuse to do so.

The coun­cil be­lieves there are more than 2000 un­reg­is­tered short-term ac­com­mo­da­tion providers in Noosa and if they all paid the min­i­mum levy of $60 the shire would re­ceive an ex­tra $120,000 a year for its pro­mo­tions fund.

How­ever, Airbnb said it would fight any move to have it hand over its 19,000 Queens­land clients’ ad­dresses.

“If they (coun­cils) want to pur­sue back-to-the-fu­ture in­no­va­tion-deny­ing poli­cies our com­mu­nity will fight to pro­tect their rights,” Airbnb ANZ pub­lic pol­icy head Brent Thomas told NewsRe­gional.

Noosa Coun­cil will ta­ble the idea at the com­ing Lo­cal Gov­ern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion of Queens­land con­fer­ence and there are hopes the LGAQ will use its lob­by­ing power to get the State Gov­ern­ment on board.

Coun­cil rep­re­sen­ta­tives from across the state will con­verge on Glad­stone from Oc­to­ber 16–18 for the con­fer­ence where this and many other ideas will be de­bated.

If there is wide­spread sup­port for the coun­cil’s idea at the con­fer­ence, the LGAQ will then ad­vo­cate on be­half of all lo­cal gov­ern­ments at the state level.

Noosa Mayor Tony Welling­ton said there were a num­ber of is­sues stem­ming from un­reg­is­tered hol­i­day ac­com­mo­da­tion providers in­clud­ing:

■ Own­ers avoid­ing lo­cal tourism levies and coun­cil in­fra­struc­ture charges that are paid by reg­is­tered op­er­a­tors.

■ Fewer long-term res­i­den­tial rentals on the mar­ket.

■ An over-sup­ply of short-term rentals lead­ing to an in­crease in home­less­ness; and

❝ If (coun­cils) want to pur­sue back-to-the-fu­ture in­no­va­tion deny­ing poli­cies our com­mu­nity will fight to pro­tect their rights

PHOTO: CON­TRIB­UTED

NOT BUDGING: Airbnb says it will fight any move to have it hand over its 19,000 Queens­land clients’ ad­dresses, like the Sun­shine Coast prop­erty pic­tured, listed on the com­pany’s web­site.

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