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During a recent visit to Katoomba, local café and other service providers told us of the devastating drop-off in business following this summer’s bushfires. Sydney Morning Herald Domain Reporter, Sue Williams, has set out a plan on how to lend support to affected traders in the Blue Mountains region. Williams offers help by way of contacts in Bilpin, Mount Wilson, Mount Tomah, Leura, Katoomba, Mount Victoria, Medlow Bath and Blackheath. Featured are those offering local produce plus links to accredited accommodation providers. Sprinkled quietly amongst them are one or two ‘entire home’ Airbnb listings. A quick glance reveals that one of the featured landlords runs 22 Airbnb properties, while the other has six Airbnbs. How are these Airbnb operators selected?

Domain’s national managing editor, Alice Stolz, also penned a piece: Road to recovery: 55 Australian towns to visit to help after the bushfires. Visitor guides to the Blue Mountains, Southern Highland, Shoalhaven, Far South Coast (slipping in Airbnb’s The Knoll Moruya), and Snowy Region were supplied.

Alongside Alice Stolz’s piece, the SMH/Domain published another article by contributor, Lisa Marie Corso, under the headline: “Desperate for visitors: How to spend a weekend in Blackheath”. The whole article was dedicated to ‘home away from home: The Gumnuts is a 1920s timber cottage filled with charm’. Homeowner Julie Gibbs is in the business of telling stories”. Ms Gibbs is a “Food, Travel and Lifestyle publisher/creator/collaborator”. The article’s author, Lisa Marie Corso, saw herself featured in a Domain article in 2018. That 2018 article was authored by Lucy Feagin, Editor of The Design Files. Ms Feagin writes of Ms Corso: “Today’s guest homeowner needs no introduction. In fact, can Lisa Marie Corso really be called a guest!?! It is more a tale of the prodigal daughter returning home to visit.” Lisa Marie Corso: “I previously served as Managing Editor of The Design Files…” Good friends helping each other with high-profile media exposure, or influencers providing favours for former colleagues? This trick spins so rapidly, it’s near impossible to keep up. And who is paid for such ‘articles’ and is this money ‘shared’?

Back to The Gumnuts: What Ms Gibbs, the article’s author, the SMH and Domain all failed to mention in their story telling is that this home is a fulltime, non-staffed Airbnb rental. And yet again, an Internet search sees the Godson Avenue Blackheath property popping up across a vast sway of other online booking platforms.

In the US, one City authority is reported to have issued US$168,000 in fines related to illegal vacation rentals during a single weekend.

The past two days alone has seen The Guardian UK publish eight articles highly critical of Airbnb and its cohort.

Given that Airbnb boasts that we here in Australia are their “most penetrated market in the world”, why isn’t our Media highlighting the profound impacts of Airbnb and its ilk? And why aren’t our legislators acting in the interests and rights of residents? Indeed, when legislators are volunteered all information on illegal short-term rentals they refuse calls for enforcement action. Who then is colluding with whom?

Support communities affected by bushfires by staying with our accredited accommodation providers. And please: residential housing is for the housing of residents.


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