Blame big hotels, not us, says short-let body

A peak body representing short-stay letting has hit back at claims the sector is damaging tourism and destroying the livelihoods of moteliers, hoteliers and guest house owners in regional WA.

The Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation (ASTRA) says it represents “the thousands of WA families that rely on short stay income to pay their mortgages” and promotes their side of a “debate that has been largely driven by professional lobbyists”.

The body argues short-stay accommodation in WA didn’t begin with Airbnb but has been around for generations and continues today “in much the same way it began, with mum-and-dad investors buying a holiday home”.

ASTRA argues all accommodation providers are suffering the effects of a difficult WA tourism market, compounded by downturns in the mining sector and government expenditure on major infrastructure projects.

But it says locals providers should not be looking at each other as competition, but instead eyeing the multinational hotel groups dominating the Australian accommodation market.

Traditional accommodation operators, particularly in WA’s Margaret River region, say a proliferation of unregulated short stays are forcing providers out of business and damaging the incomes of the tourism community, the spokesperson for one local group describing Airbnb as a “corporate bully”.

ASTRA says the sector is just one part of an evolving competitive market driven by guest travel preferences very different to those of the previous generation.

Chair Rob Jeffress argues that far from damaging local communities, short-term rentals are now recognised as a driver for tourism in regional areas, “where it makes a strong contribution to the local economy, providing thousands of local jobs, supporting local services and businesses”.

And he says the lobbyists blaming short stay for decreased housing affordability, declining local business, a lack of long-term rentals and ungoverned party houses are merely interested in protecting their competitive advantage.

“Short-term rental accommodation (STRA) properties are owned by mum-and-dad Australians who sink funds earned back into our Australian economy, unlike many of the big overseas-owned accommodation providers,” he said.

“Another Australian Hotels Association catchcry is that STRA owners do not pay tax which is interesting as we all pay income tax and capital gains tax, and many of us are slugged substantial amounts of land tax.

“In fact, it is many of the overseas owned conglomerates that have tax advantages that STRA owners do not.”

Jeffress argues that a proposal submitted by WA hotels association chief Bradley Woods to the state’s parliamentary inquiry into the sector, which includes limiting short stay accommodation to bookings of more than 14 nights, would make it impossible for short-stay providers to operate.

ASTRA instead supports regulation, says Jeffress, that forces short stay operators to register their properties appropriately and abide by a code of conduct with enforceable penalties for irresponsible owners and guests.

“We do not support the introduction of caps on short stay use as the market is already saturated in prime locations and such action would be anti-competitive, costly to manage and destructive to maintaining stocks of quality well-managed properties in the market,” he added.


Kate Jackson

Kate Jackson is the editor of Accomnews. You can reach her at any time with questions or submissions: [email protected]

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  1. We seem to be regurgitating the same arguments continually on this contentious issue, and I think it has been going some 6-7 years now………The answer is simple “tsk”, regulate Airbnb and all interlopers in line with existing hotel/motel operators then all players are on the same level playing field and the end users are protected and kept safe from unscrupulous operators. The protocols are in play and it is just a matter of law and implementation. After all there is no compromise when the protection of end users is paramount…..NHI

    1. You can not compare Short Term Rental Accommodation (STRA) with hotels / motels. STRA accommodates related individuals who spend time together in many settings in an individual dwelling. hotels / motels accommodate hundreds of unrelated people in commercial style buildings. to very different markets which have to be regulated differently. The proposal of 1 size fits all by all including ASTRA does not allow for individual LGA existing fair and reasonable regulations for varied local issues.

      1. We used to have lots of tradespeople stay at our motel. Now they stay in STRA houses. At least one I am aware of, the local house owner put up curtains to divide a large family room of a 4 bedroom house, so that 6 workmen could share the house, each having their own ‘space’. I have had feedback from quite a few of our once regular guests, complaining about cramped conditions in some cases, and shared bathrooms not working out well! We have lost a lot of income and % occupancy due to such arrangements. We just cannot compete with that – especially with the commercial insurance cover, commercial council rates, etc WE have to pay! These people sharing are NOT family and NOT related in any way other than being work colleagues.

          1. I would say that the bosses are doing it on the cheap and respecting their workers at all by cramming them in al together. Just a thought

  2. More un-necessary regulation in what appears to be a working system for both providers and users alike. Local communities are clearly benefiting by the upswing in numbers, drawn in by flexible and affordable accommodation. Hotels association has the right to protect it’s members but the arguments above are floored.

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