GRAB A SHARE: Rainbow Beach is leading the growth of Airbnb in the region.
GRAB A SHARE: Rainbow Beach is leading the growth of Airbnb in the region. Contributed

Rainbow Beach leads Airbnb boom

AIRBNB has taken flight in Gympie, with the number of rentals in the region tripling over the past two years.

According to online data site Airdna, which maps trends for the popular share accommodation site, the total rentals in the region soared from 56 in 2015 to 182 this year.

Rainbow Beach is leading this growth spurt with 42 active rentals listed in the area, growing at an annual rate of 260 per cent.

Almost half of Rainbow Beach's rentals are occupied, and draw an average of $1492 in revenue.

Combined, the city of Gympie and Southside has 24 rentals, and occupancy rates at 65 per cent or higher in each area.

There are also 12 active rentals in the Mary Valley, most commonly situated around Imbil.

The most popular rentals in the region were houses, with private room rentals making up 35 per cent of the market.

More than half of the properties in the region are booked out at any time, and overall, from 2011 the region has experienced an annual growth of Airbnb rentals of 89 per cent.

USC Tourism expert Dr Aaron Tham said that Gympie had a unique attraction which was undoubtedly a help in the Airbnb industry taking a foothold in the area.

"Between the Sunshine Coast and Hervey Bay, there are few locations that are just off the highway like Gympie," Dr Tham said.

"As such, its ease of access makes it one of the most convenient locations for a stop while not losing too much time meandering (through) roundabouts and city traffic."

The growing trend of Sunshine Coast workers living in the region could also be playing a role.

"It could be that these residents are away for work most of the time and therefore Airbnb offers them a viable form of passive income from their under-utilised assets," he said.

Gympie Regional Council's decision to not charge a tourism levy on Airbnb could also be helping by allowing the market to set itself.

The surge in Airbnb at Rainbow Beach comes hot on the heels of a spectacular four-year surge in visitors.

According to Queensland Surf Life Saving figures, more than 275,000 people are expected to have set foot on Rainbow Beach itself by the end of the year.

Between 2012 and 2016 the total number of visitors soared by 164 per cent, and more than 60,000 guests were recorded over the last Christmas holiday break.

Destination Gympie Region tourism manager Andrew Saunders agreed the bonanza could be chalked up to its unique appeal.

"It's safe, it's secure, it's got nature and wildlife in abundance and it's got that coastal appeal that people think of when they think of Australia," he said.