Tourism accommodations need a level playing field
The “social sharing” concept of trying to make a few extra dollars to make ends meet by giving Junior’s bedroom a fresh coat a paint and renting it out to some comefrom-aways has morphed into a dynamic and highly profitable business phenomenon driven by savvy internet marketing platforms such as Airbnb. The 2017 valuation is $31 billion.
From a few air mattresses on the floor in a San Francisco apartment, to a room, to a single dwelling, to multiple dwellings, to condo units, yes b’y, business is booming for the neophyte renting out Junior’s room as well as the new entrepreneur investor(s) in single and multiple unit shortterm rental units.
These folks represent a myriad of backgrounds, be it retired pensioners, active real estate tycoons, politicians — to name a few — and who can blame them not wanting to get a piece of that $31-billion pie, eh b’y? And all you got to do is get a lick a paint on Junior’s room! Ergo, why would anybody in their right mind want to open a B&B, what with all the regulations and costs associated with being a “legal” tourism accommodation?
In this province, unlike a number of other Canadian jurisdictions, the Department of Tourism, Culture and Rural Development has not addressed regulating the underground Airbnb industry under the Tourism Act, much to the detriment of the B&B industry in this province, which essentially facilitated the growth and uniqueness of rural tourism over the years.
Airbnb operators are under absolutely no regulatory obligation to participate in the associated financial obligations mandated to legitimate accommodation operators in this province. That being the case then, the contribution of Airbnbs to the financial economic “capital” infrastructure of the province is negligible and unmeasurable. No association fees, no business/commercial taxes, GST. No commercial insurance/ liability, no quality assurance monitoring, etc.
Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, as the association arm of tourism in Newfoundland under the Department of Business, Tourism, Culture and Rural Development, has recently issued a press release attempting to inform and address the call for regulatory action regarding the Airbnb platform aimed at the provincial government — an attempt to light a fire under the arse of the minister responsible to take action.
We, as successful and long-term B&B owner/operators, together with others, are somewhat perplexed and take great umbrage with the current minister of Tourism indicating during a television broadcast regarding this issue that Airbnbs are a positive contributor to the tourism economy here in Newfoundland and Labrador. To us, these comments are illinformed and contrary to what is actually occurring within this segment of the tourism industry. The statement essentially throws the B&B industry in Newfoundland and Labrador under the tour bus. We are about more than just putting extra arses in the bed to fill occupancy statistics. We are true “value add” to the tourism dollar!
If the new social sharing platform is the new accommodation model, unregulated as it currently is for Newfoundland and Labrador, then sign us up b’y, ’cause we can all use a financial break! The shed could use a lick a paint, I suppose.