Tourism

‘Collaborative’ economy must be more about ‘contributing’ to the economy than ‘taking’, says TAA

Tourism Accommodation Australia welcomed the NSW government’s commitment to addressing the issues caused by the expansion of new so-called ‘collaborative’ economy, but called for urgent regulation of commercial short-term accommodation operators.

The dramatic growth of unregulated short-term accommodation, fuelled by internet booking sites such as Airbnb, had seen the original concept of “room sharing” morph into a channel allowing commercial operators to rent out multiple properties without meeting many of the safety, insurance, taxation, body corporate, strata, council and State regulations imposed on other operators of commercial short-term accommodation.

In NSW alone, Airbnb offers 15,000 listings, and recent analysis both in Australia and overseas has determined that between 25 – 35 percent of ‘hosts’ are operating as commercial non-resident landlords using the sites as a way to circumvent regulations.

TAA is calling for the government to introduce regulations to ensure commercial short-term accommodation operators are subject to similar safety and operational regulations as legitimate operators.

“Hotels, motels, serviced apartment, B&B and other legitimate short-term accommodation providers have a strict regulatory framework in place to protect their guests and ensure they operate fairly,” said TAA CEO Carol Giuseppi.

“In the past few months we have seen the results of the ‘no care, no responsibility’ attitude towards unregulated short-term accommodation with reports of assaults, property damage and a terrifying drug raid. Overseas, there have also been reports of deaths.

“The self-regulatory approach mentioned in the Paper will not provide the protections needed for guests or other property owners in apartment blocks and communities. The already high rental costs in Sydney are only going to be exacerbated by the unfettered growth of apartments being transformed from long-term rentals to make more money from short-term rentals without meeting the regulations that apply to other legitimate operators.

“The reality for many people involved in the so-called ‘collaborative’ economy is that they take rather than give. They contribute virtually nothing to employment, whereas hotels and other legitimate operators employ 21,000 people in NSW. They contribute nothing to collaborative tourism promotion. They often avoid paying appropriate taxes and community charges.

“TAA has been advocating for a registration-style system that would mean that current unregulated operators would have to be approved before they are able to operate. The new digital platforms would need to be part of the solution from a regulatory perspective, otherwise any framework put in place is doomed to fail.

“Once an appropriate framework is put in place, it is up to these digital platforms to make sure that the accommodation they offer to travellers is safe and fit for purpose, and complies with all relevant laws.”

Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke is managing editor at Multimedia Publishing.

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