The number of Airbnb hosts in Western Australia has increased in the past year by more than 50 per cent to 8100 accommodation listings, according to a report by Curtin University.
Report co-author Curtin Business School Associate Professor Christof Pforr said the development of Airbnb had been one of the most significant disruptions to the tourism sector.
But the Australian Hotels Association WA disagreed, saying the report painted a misleading picture of the WA tourism industry.
The report, The Impact of Airbnb on WA’s Tourism Industry, also conducted by Curtin Business School research fellow Michael Volgger, analysed the effect of the online platform’s growth on the WA tourism and accommodation sector.
According to the report, as of 2016, Airbnb’s supply had grown at a rate of 4 per cent per month.
“The report shows Airbnb is becoming an increasingly visible reality for the State’s tourism sector with about 8000 listings and 6000 hosts,” Associate Professor Pforr said.
“Today, about 25 per cent of WA’s room capacity is provided via the online platform with about six per cent of WA’s international overnight visitor stays generated by Airbnb last year.”
AHA WA chief executive Bradley Woods said the rise in host figures was not concerning, as it had not translated to accommodation bookings.
“Airbnb active listings have increased by 50 per cent, however, Airbnb accommodation still only represents just over two per cent of the total economic value in the short stay accommodation market in WA,” he said.
“When you think about $2.2 billion a year being spent by consumers in licensed hotels, apartments and accommodation and $52 million spent on Airbnb type hosts, it is a very different economic proposition.”
Mr Woods said the main concern with Airbnb was the potential blur between commercial and private residences.
“Airbnb hosts seem to be moving away from the shared room, apartment scenarios to now over 60 per cent being single-use, single occupancy housing where entire apartments are being let without any regulatory framework or licencing,” he said.
“There are some operators who have more than 10 properties in the Airbnb network. They are operating as a hotel without having to meet any state regulatory framework or licencing requirements.”
Airbnb’s country manager Sam McDonagh said the report confirmed Airbnb’s importance in the Western Australian tourism industry, however it also suggested a need for policy regulation.
“These results reinforce the urgent need for fair and progressive rules for home sharing in Western Australia. Our community needs clarity and certainty if it is to continue to grow and support the economy,” he said.
Mr Woods said regulation was something the industry, the WA government and Airbnb needed to work on together.
“We need to ensure there is proper licencing of accommodation which has been seen in places like San Francisco and Amsterdam where Airbnb have worked with the government to implement the right regulatory framework,” he said.
“The key thing is we need Airbnb to come to the table to collaborate as part of a collective tourism accommodation industry.”