AIRBNB: ‘POP-UP’ TOURISM OR ‘INVASION’?


A new report in Science Direct - ‘Pop-up’ tourism or ‘invasion’? Airbnb in coastal Australia, Professor Nicole Gurran and Associates - examines the impacts of Airbnb rentals beyond our major cities. The report focuses on ‘touristification’ and gentrification impacts in 12 coastal cases, finds that some communities benefit from ‘pop-up’ accommodation but others report tourism ‘invasion’, and looks at the impact patterns reflected by local tourism practices and housing market pressures. The report classifies Byron Bay and the Mornington Peninsula as those in the “invasive tourism” category. In the Byron Shire, 17.6% of the entire housing stock is advertised on Airbnb – this equates to 43.4% of the locality's rental housing. Latest figures for Byron Shire from Inside Airbnb indicate that for the 2-month period from 30 September to 30 November 2019 there was an increase of 208 listings. Byron’s Airbnb figure as at 30/09/19 stood at 3,513 homes lost; others, such as Stayz, Booking.com and local agents, are not included in this figure.


In France, Airbnb’s $2 billion market is under pressure from lawmakers. A newly enacted law forces Airbnb to supply information about the type of housing being offered, the number of guests and landlords’ names and addresses. Paris and Bordeaux have asked for data under the new regulations, which took effect in December.


Amsterdam's 20,000 Airbnb landlords must get tourist licences or stop operating, plus triple the fine for illegal holiday home rentals - from €6,000 to €20,500.  Here, Parliamentarians and Councillors are aiming to facilitate Airbnb and our most senior MPs’ objectives.


A NSW Airbnb couple featured in a recent SMH article complaining their business had all but evaporated, contacted us and asked that we remove from Social Media a photograph that they themselves had posted. We complied and responded immediately, seeking confirmation that the husband and wife still worked for two NSW Councils where short-term rentals are an illegal use. No response was received. Council records indicate one works as “Development Planner - Development Assessment & Compliance”.


The Council for the City of Sydney advises that it has a dedicated portal for reporting unauthorised accommodation, though we have yet to see evidence of any enforcement action undertaken by Council Staff against illegal short-term rental operators.


The Victorian Consumer and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) has issued orders against Melbourne Serviced Apartments Pty Ltd for a string of disturbing short-stay incidents. The complainant won $1,000 only as compensation for “loss of amenity” for instances where recreational drugs, vomiting, blood stains, cigarette butts, discarded used condoms, abuse, threats, sleepless nights, mail theft etc haunted neighbours. And yet, another short-stay operator continues to create havoc in the same building. Here is the harrowing report.


Airbnb’s head of Public Policy Aus/NZ Derek Nolan told ABC Radio Hobart this week that one “can’t criticise the University (of Tasmania) for doing its best to try to look after its cohort…the rise in international student numbers certainly are (sic) affecting the housing situation for students.” Meanwhile many Tasmanian school leavers must move to Hobart to continue study, but after spending $480 a fortnight on accommodation from a $610 Youth Allowance, it leaves $56 a week for living expenses. Airbnb’s Brent Thomas also told ABC Hobart: “Trying to blame Airbnb for housing unaffordability was misleading.”


Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Communications at Airbnb Chris Lehane is offering ‘4 Tips From Airbnb Leaders on How to Activate Around We Are All Human’. On Twitter Lehane writes: “The company’s values of belonging deeply resonate with my own, and I have been honored to serve our community for the last 9 years. I wanted to use my voice to elevate issues and open more doors for recruitment and community engagement.” In turn, a US community activist wrote: “I’ve only met Mr Lehane once. He is paid by Airbnb to sing their praises. If someone agreed to pay him more, I’d imagine he’d be happy to disparage them. It is only and always about the money. Ethics and values need not apply.”


Courtesy of Vice magazine, here are the most common Airbnb scams worldwide, while according to NSW north coast publication, the Northern Star, Stayz has this week urged its landlords to push back against any proposed restrictions on short-term holiday rentals.

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