Airbnb does not want short-stay accommodation hosts to become scapegoats for Tasmania’s housing shortage, a national boss has told a parliamentary inquiry.
Australian head of public policy Brent Thomas has given evidence to a Legislative Council inquiry into short-stay accommodation in Hobart.
He said the perception Airbnb is contributing to Tasmania’s accommodation shortage is a myth and other factors are responsible for the rental market squeeze.
“Massive amounts of people moving in here to Tasmania and not enough housing being built, more university places being opened up and not enough houses being built,” he said.
“I think there’s a supply issue which is overwhelmingly being driven by other macro factors.”
He told the inquiry there are about 5,100 Airbnb listings in Tasmania, and about 1,200 of those are in the greater Hobart area.
He said 76 per cent of Tasmanian listings are for entire homes.
Labor MLC Josh Willie said that must be impacting the private rental market.
“You’ve already got a tight market with supply and demand issues and then you add short-stay accommodation on top of that,” he said.
Mr Thomas said Hobart had a growing population.
“I think what concerns us is when our hosts are unreasonably scapegoated for a problem that has much, much bigger drivers,” he said.
Airbnb ‘red flag’ for small operators
The latest half-yearly tourism business confidence survey shows just one in four hosted and self-contained accommodation operators are looking forward to a busier summer than last year, compared to 50 per cent from the broader tourism industry.
Luke Martin says smaller operators are flagging growth in Airbnb as a concern. (ABC News: Scott Ross)
The head of the Tasmanian Tourism Council, Luke Martin, said operators have highlighted Airbnb as the major contributing factor.
“This sector of the visitor economy has expanded rapidly over the past few years with the growth in Airbnb listings and hundreds of new small accommodation operators entering the market, and its telling this sector of the industry has a much softer outlook than the remainder of the tourism industry,” he said.
“This is clearly a red flag, and almost to a tee these operators are all citing the growth in Airbnb as the factor.”
Mr Martin said the results were not surprising and expected the market to settle down over coming years, but highlighted work still needed to be done.
“The challenge is for us to make sure that as the industry continues to evolve and change and new disruptions come into the sector, we make sure we keep an even playing field for all stakeholders and make sure that the industries are able to compete equally,” he said.
More international visitors
New tourism figures released by Tourism Research Australia show a record 307,000 international visitors came to Tasmania in the year ending June 2018, up 21 per cent.
Premier and Minister for Tourism Will Hodgman said the figures were positive for Tasmania.
“On percentage terms, our growth in international visitors numbers outstripped the rest of the nation, demonstrating Tasmania’s popularity on the world stage,” he said.
The International Visitor Survey results showed international visitor expenditure in Tasmania has increased by 21 per cent on the previous year, totalling $552 million.
Overseas visitors are staying in the state for 17 nights on average and the number of visitors from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, New Zealand, Japan and France have all increased.