Tourism set for red tape tangle

Chris Rodwell

CCIWA Chief Executive Officer

Western Australia would become the only state saddling Airbnb and other short-stay accommodation platforms with onerous and unnecessary regulations under proposals outlined by the State Government.

The State Government appears set on embracing calls for increased red tape in the sharing economy, which will only remove choice for visitors, make accommodation more expensive and deter visitors to our state.

Changes proposed by the State Government’s Inquiry into Short-Stay Accommodation would render existing, legitimate short-stay hosts non-compliant, putting them at risk of large fines and significant legal penalties. In some areas, un-hosted short-stay accommodation may be disallowed completely.

These arrangements are much more onerous than in other states, putting Western Australia’s tourism sector at a distinct disadvantage.

Ultimately, this will reduce the incomes of families that make accommodation available on online platforms, as well as small businesses in the retail sector, and cafes and restaurants.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCIWA) urges the Government to put jobs and the growth of the tourism sector back at the forefront of this process.

While CCIWA welcomed the State Government’s recent $10 million investment to boost regional tourism and flights, the decision to regulate short-stay accommodation providers would appear to counter this good work. In this context, 60,000 Airbnb guests alone would have made shorter visits to WA, or chosen not to visit at all if sharing economy accommodation was not available, representing a loss of $54 million in spending.

While the decision announced yesterday may suit some operators in the tourism industry, it won’t help grow the sector as a whole and runs contrary to the State Government’s stated intentions to diversify the economy. It also works against efforts to reduce the regulatory burden on WA businesses, which the Government is pursuing through the Streamline WA initiative.

CCIWA recognises there is a role for a state-wide, light-touch regulatory framework, modelled on the successful approach of South Australia and New South Wales.

The Government should look to this approach to ensure its changes do not compromise the local tourism industry and its efforts to grow and diversify the economy.

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