Airbnb: Hotel industry plan would destroy WA's 'home sharing' economy

The debate over short-stay accommodation laws has intensified with analysis from Airbnb claiming a plan to reform the industry by the Australian Hotels Association would devastate its business in WA, costing jobs and tourists.

AHA WA chief executive Bradley Woods proposed a "five-point plan" in October, which he said would balance the "benefit for tourism from genuine home sharing" with protecting WA’s hotel industry.

It included a restriction on home-sharing to a host’s primary residence and prohibiting the listing of entire properties for stays under 14 days.

But Airbnb’s head of public policy Brent Thomas said their listings would be cut by more than a third and local hosts would lose more than $25 million in income.

"The AHA WA wants to ban holiday homes, ban holidays less than two weeks long, and ban almost all home sharing in Western Australia outright," he said.

"At a time when WA’s tourism is the worst performing state in the country, it is the policy equivalent of pouring petrol on a fire.

"Under their extreme plan approximately 95 per cent of trips on Airbnb in Western Australia would be banned.

"It would cost local tourism more than half a million guest arrivals and more than $111.3 million a year in Airbnb guest spending."

Airbnb says the hotel industry's plan to regulate short-stay accommodation in WA would destroy its business and cost jobs and tourists in the west. Photo: Ryan Stuart

Airbnb says the hotel industry's plan to regulate short-stay accommodation in WA would destroy its business and cost jobs and tourists in the west. Photo: Ryan Stuart

But Mr Woods said Airbnb had misrepresented the hotel industry's position and their analysis assumed their hosts would not register as short-stay accommodation providers.

"Unsurprisingly the analysis is misleading and self-serving," he said.

"Short-stay accommodation platforms such as Airbnb will fiercely oppose fair and sensible regulations, as they have done in jurisdictions around the world.

"The AHA is proposing reforms that will bring unregulated and unregistered accommodation providers in line with those businesses who for years have been complying with the rules and regulations set for them.

"Failure to address the uneven playing field that currently exists will continue to see jobs, training opportunities and government revenue put at risk."

In October, parliament agreed to hold bipartisan inquiry into regulation of the state's short-stay accommodation industry.

In June, the NSW government introduced new rules to regulate short-stay accommodation, including a 180-night cap on the number of days empty properties could be rented in Sydney, and powers for strata corporations to ban Airbnb in their buildings.

Airbnb modelling of the AHA WA five-point plan

The AHA WA plan to restrict home sharing to a primary place of residence or a on ban holiday homes alone would result in a:

  • 30 per cent cut to Airbnb listings, or a reduction of 3500 properties;
  • 33 per cent cut to nights booked, meaning 239,000 fewer nights would be booked on Airbnb in WA; and
  • 36 per cent cut to WA host income, a loss of $25.6 million.

The AHA WA’s minimum 14-night stay policy would ban 95 per cent of trips on Airbnb. Trips on Airbnb would fall from 184,000 to 9,200.

Airbnb believes this would cost it more than 95 per cent or 522,595 of its guest arrivals.

Airbnb said research from Deloitte found the average Airbnb guest spent more than $213 per day in WA. A loss of 522,595 guest arrivals would mean a loss of $111.3 million in guest expenditure.