Councils go after tourism levies
Airbnb shuts door on address-sharing plan
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
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.