Holiday Houses, Their Place in the Tourism Accommodation Mix

I have long been perplexed about the numerous holiday lets whether houses, cabins and whatever that are to be found throughout Australia that exist without a resident manager and often are not associated with any tourism related body.

I have generally stood on the side lines of arguments as none of these establishments have directly affected our own hosted accommodation, its business or environs.

On one occasion while carrying out mentoring activities, I was asked if I could advise a client on problems that his family had with our council over a holiday house they let out. This was located in a housing estate hard by the coast. There were issues of noise, parking and whether they fitted in with council’s licensing of holiday accommodation in the same way as other accommodation for short-term let.

Taking this problem one stage further on our beautiful hinterland we have a large range of holiday lets, many available for family and short-term group stays, particularly for the wedding market.

One of the marketing problems that I have come across whilst managing our tourism association run information centre is that we often cannot advise or satisfy a large number of visitor enquiries for group and family accommodation outside the normal hotel and motel, cabin, cottage, B&B and camping ground market.

So there are issues of:

• Information on the holiday homes, their costs and availability, whom to contact and whom to complain to, if that is necessary, particularly as sought by information centres and tourism associations.

• What appears to be acceptable or unacceptable behaviour in the environment in which holiday homes are domiciled

• Fairness of treatment in respect of licences, hygiene, parking and so on by the authorities

• As well as a difficulty of dealing often with a plethora of individual owners, many of whom may not live in the destination itself. To date only Byron Bay seems to have gone its act together which has just concluded a code of conduct for members effective 31 March 2012.

So your columnist is at least up to date with his information.

In my quandary I turned to Jenny Tatton from Montville Real Estate who sits on our Hinterland Tourism Association. At a recent meeting she turned up with a large file on holiday houses, since her organisation looks after a number of holiday lets, often for owners who use their let occasionally themselves and may later wish to retire there. Jenny, as always was a mine of information.

I have therefore included information from her and from the Byron Bay Holiday Letting Association whose backers for their code of conduct for members are Stayz, Take a Break, Rent a Home and the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales.

This sector of the accommodation industry is surprisingly large. In the Sunshine Coast Hinterland rough figures would indicate that in the region from Montville to Mapleton and Kureelpa of some 70 plus accommodations 30 would fit into this non-resident holiday home sector of which one real estate organisation covers 17 of them in marketing terms.

To put this in an economic context and, whilst accepting that because many of the holiday house owners do not live in that destination (which depreciates the economic multiplier fact), Justin Butterworth, Stayz Group business development director comments on the HLO website that: “The short term rental of houses and apartments to holiday makers, business and educational visitors makes an important contribution to the local as well as the broader state and national economies.”

In Montville Real Estate’s Christmas 2011 Seasons Greetings it is opined that:” On both the supply and demand side, holiday rental is the fastest growing segment of tourist accommodation at many destinations around the country. Factors driving this growth include lifestyle, investment and the worldwide web”. The newsletter goes on to worry that “many commercial operators… feel threatened by the growth of the holiday rental market”.

It is my view that it is better the devil you know; it is easier to deal face to face than to complain and battle. This segment of the tourism market, like that of the wedding one, needs to be worked with, strongly encouraged to have an enforceable code of conduct and perhaps establish an equivalent body such as ARAMA with its own state and local branches so that the whole industry can work together.

Peter Rogers
Eyrie Escape 

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