EXCLUSIVE: Airbnb women rake in millions since COVID, “not fair” says Accom rep

Women Airbnb hosts rake in the dollar despite COVID...

Australian women are earning millions from Airbnb accommodation and a new report on their earnings has sparked calls for the Federal Government to crack down on “Australia’s black economy” by creating “a level playing field” in the industry.

Accommodation Association CEO Dean Long has called on the Government to implement the ATO’s data-matching program this year, rather than from July 1, 2022 as planned.

He said there was an “urgent need to support transparency and equalisation” and Airbnb should face the same reporting obligations as traditional accommodation businesses.

Australian women are leading the way as female Airbnb hosts, with a new survey revealing that from 13 regions across Queensland, NSW, Western Australia, and Victoria, they have earned more than $25 million since March last year.

The news flies in the face of traditional accommodation providers, which have been staggering under the burden of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Long said that “fundamentally Airbnb have don’t have to pay many of the outgoings traditional accommodation providers face”.

“Many Airbnb providers are not getting taxed at the right amount either,” he said.

There is an urgent need for on-going application of the ATO data-matching program because traditional businesses have existing reporting obligations and Airbnb providers do not.

“The Treasury’s Black Economy Taskforce Final Report in 2019 recommended the data matching program to start from 1 July 2022 but we are calling on the Federal Government as part of our pre-Budget submission to bring that forward to this year.

“It’s not fair that in an industry that has been devastated by COVID traditional business are still paying their fair share of tax while all those that are participating in an unregulated accommodation sector such as Airbnb aren’t.

“Our cost base is significantly higher than Airbnb because we are a regulated industry and therefore we have to charge higher amounts to cover our costs of operating then those other operators on an unregulated platform who are not paying their fair share of tax. Are they making sure they have adequate insurances, are they complying with fire and safety laws? They are certainly not having to pay commercial rates.”

Mr Long said all those factors acted as disincentives for business owners to invest in the accommodation industry and that many of the people operating on the Airbnb platform were receiving an “enormous head start’’ over traditional accommodation providers working in a regulated industry.

“On the back of COVID, governments need to create a level playing field,” Mr Long said.

We are not asking for anything more; just a level playing field so that everyone that operates and provides accommodation is paying their fair share of tax.

The Airbnb survey revealed four Australian cities cracked the global list of top 10 cities by representation of female hosts and that the Gold Coast was tied for second place in the worldwide ranking.

Lynette Jackson, who hosts an Airbnb at Highland Park on the Gold Coast, told her property was still busy even at the height of the pandemic.

Her Airbnb, which she has run for the last five and a half years, currently has bookings all the way through to July.

The Airbnb survey found almost 65 percent of hosts in Australia were women, with the Gold Coast’s rate of female hosts standing at 67 percent.

Queensland’s Sunshine Coast had the highest earnings for female hosts of more than $3.3 million, closely followed by Byron Bay.

The Airbnb survey showed female Airbnb hosts have collectively earned since March 2020:

  • Sunshine Coast, QLD – more than $3,364,000
  • Byron Bay, NSW – more than $3,143,000
  • Jervis Bay, NSW – more than $2,452,000
  • Sydney, NSW – more than $2,320,000
  • Great Ocean Road, VIC – more than $2,361,000
  • NSW Mid North Coast – more than $2,152,000
  • NSW Central Coast – more than $1,952,000
  • Mornington Peninsula, VIC – more than $1,790,000
  • Gold Coast/Tweed, QLD – more than $1,765,000
  • Brighton, VIC – more than $1,402,000
  • Perth, WA – more than $886,000
  • Melbourne, VIC – more than $775,000
  • Brisbane, QLD – more than $877,000

 NB – these earnings exclude billings generated by Australia’s male Airbnb hosts.

Grantlee Kieza

Grantlee Kieza OAM has won three Queensland Media Awards, two Australian Sports Commission Awards and has been a finalist for the Walkley and News Awards and for the Harry Gordon Award for Australian sports journalist of the year. In 2019 he received the Medal of the Order of Australia for his writing. You can find more of his writing in our upcoming Accom News print magazine!

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  1. What sexist comments by both the Accom Assoc rep and the reporter. Blame the collective “women” when you have made a poor business choice and not kept up with the market. It was 120 years ago that horse sellers moved for a law that a person had to walk in front of a motor car with a red flag – it was their way of controlling the market – it didn’t work! The market speaks for itself

    1. So if you actually read the article , the reporter makes the comment that Australian women “are leading the way“ as hosts for Air B and B which is a finding by an Air B and B survey not the reporter or Dean Long It doesn`t say anything negative about women , it is a good thing they are leading the way I would have thought . It then goes onto say it should just be a level playing field which I would think if you are running a business you should be subject to the same conditions as your competition. I know I would be pretty annoyed with having to put up with an Air Band B property next door to me in a residential setting , which I might add Air B and B was never set up to have every second house in the suburbs rented out as short term accommodation which is what is happening in Tasmania. I would work my butt off to get rid of it next to my house . Thats why there are planning permissions and permits , thats why motels etc are where they are. The reporter has baited you by mentioning women and not in a negative way and you took the bait. There are lots of B and Bs operating with no permits and in places they shouldn`t be, we all know that . Show me someone who is happy to live next to one .

  2. Oh boo hoo Mr. Long. Your statements reflect the lack of understanding of a now legitimate part of the accommodation sector.
    – Short Term Rental Accommodation property owner providers (NOT Airbnb’s thanks) received not one cent of government assistance during the height of the pandemic – no rent reductions, no job keeper for self-hosted properties. No government paid for hotel quarantine stays.
    – The many professional managers are businesses with all of the same obligations as yours.
    – Why are you so sure that it is a “black economy”? The OTA’s are obliged to pay GST in Australia so the ATO is very aware of earnings. Given that these owners have preferred to build their investments in property rather than traditional superfunds or the sharemarket is it a crime?
    – HHmm – instead of blaming STRA for the lack of business for the hotel industry, perhaps look at COVID – guests are preferring to stay in self-contained properties away from others.
    – Whilst unfortunate it is directly the lack of international visitors that are hurting metropolitan areas. You forget there is more to Australia than major cities.
    – Why target women? Is the accommodation sector exclusively the domain of men?

  3. The headline of the article is pure clickbait and VERY misleading. Mr Long made no comments about the gender of the hosts – he’s complaining about the Airbnb economy as a whole.
    Operators need to continue to adapt to the current market climates, if everything stayed the same the market would stagnate, would we continue to see great innovations in terms of customer service and more?
    It’s up to hotels, motels etc. to continue to innovate and reinvent their strategies to ensure that they are ahead of STR operators. Whilst they are bigger, they generally have more resources at their disposal, so they should be able to outperform these competitors easily. If you continue to do the same thing you have always done, it will eventually stop working as others around you continue to adapt to market conditions.

    1. Well stated Chris D!
      Thoroughly agree. Being a female Airbnb host myself, the Covidmyear has been tough. We have had to be flexible and adapt to the times. Otherwise, we would have had to close pour doors. And another thing, Airbnb requires all Australian hosts to report their ABN and register for GST if over the threshold just like any other business.
      The claim that “It’s not fair that in an industry that has been devastated by COVID traditional business are still paying their fair share of tax while all those that are participating in an unregulated accommodation sector such as Airbnb aren’t.” is completely false. We pay tax and submit BAS based on the GST collected.

  4. It is a shame that women were used as a headline – it should have read ABnB – there are people out there who are running a business looking after multiple houses etc – one need to ask – do they have insurance, public liability, are they registered, obtain a licence at a huge cost, are they audited three times a year – just to name a few – once they do this then it will be a level playing field . Yes Chris D we operators need to update and move with the times but until everyone is paying the same costs of operating we will never be on a par!

    You really missed the opportunity to say it like it is. And YES Howard I would be really annoyed if there was a “party house” in the same street.

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