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State MP for Ballina (encompassing Byron Bay) Tamara Smith MP wrote to constituents: “I spoke directly to Minister for Regional Transport Paul Toole MP about restricting non-residents visiting Byron and the Northern Rivers via bus and train. We simply don't have the health resources to support thousands of visitors on top of our resident community if people get sick. Please tell your friends who may be planning a trip up not to come during this Pandemic.” It was pointed out to Ms Smith that non-resident Airbnb owners were still turning up, and when asked if such travellers could be fined, her response was: “Yes.”

Byron Property Managers, A Perfect Stay, still has its 148 homes listed on Airbnb, with no mention of COVID19 and bans on holidays in regional NSW, despite Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order 2020 [NSW] (Part 2 Movement) stating in terms of movement: (4) “Taking a holiday in a regional area is not a reasonable excuse.”

Australian Short Term Rental Accommodation (ASTRA) Chair Rob Jeffress (445 Airbnb listings) has been contacting landlords via email and Facebook. Together with Peter Smith (Weekenda – 109 Airbnbs), Jason (Beach Stays - 51 Airbnbs) and Margret (Pacific Coast Holidays – 91 Airbnbs) – between them, just on 700 homes listed with Airbnb – they are offering tips on communicating with clients and ‘reinforcing the breath of their ownership’. Instead of placing homes on the residential letting market their approach to Government is “the key role (their) industry plays in driving tourism…requesting direct and very specific support for property owners/managers.” ASTRA is also volunteering “7 Things to Know Before Signing Up for Airbnb’s Coronavirus Housing Program”.

In NSW, the most outstanding collaborator in terms of illegal short-term rentals and “collusion” with Airbnb, Stayz/Expedia, Bookingcom etc is the State Government’s DestinationNSW. Minister for Tourism Stuart Ayres was tweeting this afternoon, applauding Airbnb for “proactively engaging account holders…” Having robbed residents of housing, community and proprietary rights, one must question why any Minister of the NSW Government would continue to support Airbnb and its cohort.

Yesterday the European Union’s Court of Justice – Europe’s ‘top court’ - said that solving the housing shortage is the priority” over Airbnb. The Financial Times is reporting that, having been hit by a sharp drop in bookings due to the coronavirus outbreak, Airbnb has lowered its internal valuation by 16%, from US$31bn to US$26bn. Only $26bn to go!


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