‘Here to stay’

Annapolis Valley Register - - FRONT PAGE - Ash­ley.thomp­son@kingscoun­tynews.ca

“We’ve def­i­nitely seen our oc­cu­pancy go­ing down as it’s gain­ing more pop­u­lar­ity.”

He’d like to see Airbnb hosts sub­jected to tax­a­tion and safety reg­u­la­tions that are on par with the rules in place for ho­tel op­er­a­tors.

“The con­cern­ing part is the com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors, so big­ger apart­ment build­ings rent­ing out mul­ti­ple floors… (or) one in­di­vid­ual pur­chas­ing five other prop­er­ties, and then it sort of be­comes a multi-unit op­er­a­tor,” he said.

“There are ac­com­mo­da­tion in­dus­try reg­u­la­tions that they should be abid­ing by and they should be ab­so­lutely shar­ing their data.”

Es­tab­lished ho­tels and mo­tels are still the pre­ferred choice for guests want­ing an added sense of se­cu­rity, Sandhu said.

“Your safety and se­cu­rity is def­i­nitely one of the main things that you get when you stay in a ho­tel. We have to fol­low a lot of build­ing codes and fire codes, and we get in­spected quite reg­u­larly,” he said.

“There needs to be a for­mal­ity or con­sis­tency through­out the coun­try.”

Ad­vo­cat­ing for change

Sandhu is not alone in ex­press­ing his de­sire to see a uni­form method of reg­u­la­tion in­tro­duced in re­sponse to the in­creas­ing pres­ence of ac­com­mo­da­tion-shar­ing plat­forms, such as Airbnb.

The Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada’s web­site says the num­ber of Slum­ber Inn owner Jai­son Sandhu would like to see con­sis­tent, govern­ment-im­posed reg­u­la­tions put in place for on­line short-term ren­tal plat­forms, such as Airbnb, to en­sure there is fair com­pe­ti­tion within the ac­com­mo­da­tion in­dus­try.

Airbnb units for rent through­out the county has nearly dou­bled in a two-year span.

“What started as true home shar­ing – where the owner is present dur­ing the guest’s stay – has ex­panded into a grow­ing trend: peo­ple us­ing these plat­forms to be­come com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors. This means that mul­ti­ple units or whole homes are be­ing rented out on a con­sis­tent ba­sis. Ef­fec­tively, these op­er­a­tors are run­ning il­le­gal ho­tels within ex­ist­ing res­i­den­tial hous­ing,” states an ar­ti­cle pub­lished on the ho­tel as­so­ci­a­tion web­site en­ti­tled “Fair Rules for the Short-term Ren­tal In­dus­try.”

The same ar­ti­cle lists the poten-

‘Here to stay’

Tourism Nova Sco­tia spokesman Alex Han­d­ley said the ac­com­mo­da­tions sec­tor ac­counts for about 15 per cent of the an­nual tourism rev­enues in Nova Sco­tia.

“A grow­ing sup­ply of af­ford­able ac­com­mo­da­tions is key to the con­tin­ued at­trac­tion of vis­i­tors and the ex­tended stays that gen­er­ate higher rev­enues for restau­rants, re­tail­ers, trans­porta­tion com­pa­nies, and ex­pe­ri­ence providers, which make up the re­main­ing 85 per cent of tourism rev­enues,” added Han­d­ley, re­spond­ing to ques­tions via e-mail June 14.

She said about 60 per cent of the Airbnb list­ings are lo­cated out­side of Hal­i­fax Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity, mean­ing ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties are more apt to ben­e­fit from the new rev­enue brought in by tourists.

“These list­ings en­able vis­i­tors to stay in com­mu­ni­ties that they may oth­er­wise have driven through. Airbnb list­ings—and short-term ren­tal list­ings avail­able on other shar­ing econ­omy plat­forms, like Book­ing. com and VRBO—ARE cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for smaller com­mu­ni­ties to at­tract more vis­i­tors to their ar­eas,” said Han­d­ley, who noted that Nova Sco­tia’s tourism in­dus­try wel­comed a record-set­ting 2.4 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2017.

“Short-term rentals are an en­tirely new mar­ket seg­ment in the ac­com­mo­da­tions sec­tor and they

Airbnb open to ‘con­struc­tive de­bate’

Alex Dagg, direc­tor of pub­lic pol­icy for Airbnb, said the com­pany is open to en­gag­ing in con­ver­sa­tions about reg­u­la­tions.

“Airbnb is com­mit­ted to work­ing with ju­ris­dic­tions across Canada to de­velop smart, easy-to-fol­low reg­u­la­tions that sup­port home shar­ing – in­clud­ing reg­u­la­tions around tax­a­tion. We have agree­ments in more than 350 ju­ris­dic­tions glob­ally to col­lect and re­mit ho­tel taxes on be­half of our hosts and guests, in­clud­ing in the prov­ince of Que­bec and the City of Ottawa,” he said in a pre­pared state­ment June 14.

“We have been work­ing with the prov­ince to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion about our plat­form and en­cour­age them to un­der­take an in­formed and thought­ful con­sul­ta­tive process as they con­sider this is­sue – one where the pub­lic and pol­i­cy­mak­ers get to know the full pic­ture, which we be­lieve is core as­pect of con­struc­tive de­bate.”

The ma­jor­ity of Airbnb hosts in Nova Sco­tia are ev­ery­day res­i­dents rent­ing out space in their homes to earn some ex­tra cash, Dagg said.

“Hosts keep 97 per cent of their list­ing price - so that means that money is stay­ing in hosts’ pock­ets to spend in their lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties.”

ASH­LEY THOMP­SON

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