AIRBNB: New university survey wants to hear from locals.
AIRBNB: New university survey wants to hear from locals. Christian Morrow

Airbnb creates more chaos in Byron Shire

TRADITIONAL holiday accommodation providers in the Byron Shire say competing with online booking sites, like Airbnb, is not a level playing field.

Among top concerns was a need for tighter regulations and also meeting the higher insurance and council rates associated with running a legitimate tourism business.

In trying to understand these concerns, and others, Southern Cross University in partnership with Byron Shire Council has developed a survey to understand the perceived impacts of short-term rental accommodation (STRA), and primarily of holiday letting through platforms such as Airbnb, on the Byron Shire's Approved Accommodation Providers (AAPs).

"The Byron Shire Council is seeking reliable, and evidence-based information on the current experiences of the Shire's AAPs as a result of the growth of STRAs," SCU's School of Business and Tourism's Dr Sabine Muschter.

"This research will provide an opportunity for traditional accommodation providers to have their say about the impacts that increasing numbers of STRAs are having on their business operations."

The project seeks to understand current practice to better support specific and locally-informed development planning and policy-making in light of the NSW Government's proposed new regulatory framework for STRA.

The survey closes midnight, December 5.

The survey is for owners or managers of an approved accommodation in the Byron Shire only, not for an Airbnb host or a manager/owner of a short-term rental accommodation without DA approval.

"On the one hand, an approved accommodation provider faces a high level of regulation and pays high commercial tax, council rates, and levies," Dr Muschter said.

"On the other hand, a neighbouring Airbnb is offering a similar bed for tourists but has not been required to comply with any regulations, not even fire and safety, nor do they pay commercial tax or commercial council rates."

The present study is timely as councils across NSW, including the Byron Shire Council, may soon consider a short-term letting cap of 180 days for non-hosted STRA properties, including non-hosted Airbnb properties.

Such a policy amendment is now possible under the whole-of-government framework for STRA in NSW.

Survey findings will be presented to Byron Shire Council and may inform its regulatory decision-making. This research will also provide benchmarking information to guide future policies around specific location-applicable STRAs.