Airbnb denies its 11,500 listings are to blame for traditional accommodation businesses going to the wall in Western Australia.
The home-share platform is mobilising its hosts to back an email campaign urging state parliament for a “fair” solution to regulating the short-stay industry.
It has employed similar tactics in Queensland, Victoria and New South Wales, with hosts asked to pressure state authorities over proposed regulation.
Head of public policy for Australia, Brent Thomas, said WA businesses needed to embrace the changing face of millennial travel rather than blame Airbnb for a downturn in business.
“People increasingly don’t want to travel how their parents or grandparents did last century and as such, maintaining the status quo or doing the same old things won’t get WA out of its tourism doldrums.”
And he warned: “Our community is a large, growing political constituency and we will be working closely with (the government) to make sure their voices are heard loud and clear.”The campaign follows news reports last month of Margaret River accommodation providers seeing significant revenue falls which had already forced local motels out of business.
One operator, Debbie Noonan, said Airbnb was having a profound effect on established businesses.
“If things are allowed to continue as they have over the last three years, longstanding quality accommodation properties will continue to disappear in Margaret River, replaced by rented rooms in private houses offered by short-stay accommodation platforms like Airbnb,” she told The Weekend West.
“If that is all the town can offer down the track, it will dilute the quality of the brand we have built for Margaret River, not only locally but, more importantly, internationally.”
Australian Hotels Association WA chief executive Bradley Woods is among those calling for state regulation for the industry, claiming Airbnb has become like a hotel service.
“Planning guidelines should be developed for local government authorities to manage the sector whilst still delivering results for tourism, the economy and job creation,” he said.
“The absence of regulation has created inequity that if not addressed, will continue to put jobs at risk. The AHA accepts genuine shared and hosted accommodation. However, the majority of listings are for entire homes or apartments.”
Mr Thomas said Airbnb was not against regulation, but sought “fair, forward-looking and state-wide” rules for home sharing in WA.
The organisation revealed it welcomed more than 600,000 international and interstate visitors across listed properties in WA last year, while another 488,000 West Australians booked through the website.
The WA government is working on a regulatory plan for the sector.