Airbnb becomes ‘economic lifeline’ in Australia

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A man walks past a logo of Airbnb after a news conference in Tokyo, Japan, November 26, 2015. Reuters/Yuya Shino

Recent data released by Airbnb revealed that half of listings in Australia are currently found outside major cities. The global accommodation giant has been an "economic lifeline" for several in the bush, the company’s manager Sam McDonagh said.

McDonagh, who manages operations for Australia and New Zealand, said that Airbnb has been a local job source for more than 4,000 people in regional communities. The company has made regional Australia more accessible and affordable than it ever was with no cost or delay of building any new hotels.

Based on a Deloitte report, at least 2.1 million people across the country were accommodated by Airbnb in the 2015-16 financial year. It said that 56 percent of all guest arrivals across Australia this year were listings outside the major cities. Airbnb’s growth areas in New South Wales include Nowra, Newcastle, Byron Bay and Wollongong. In Victoria, the listings have grown along the Great Ocean Road while additional listings are recorded on the Gold Coast and in Far North Queensland.

Growth areas in South Australia include Robe and Kingscote, and in Margaret River and Albany in Western Australia. Growth in Airbnb’s listings has both positive and negative effects.

Tasmanian Hospitality Association’s Steve Old told ABC that Airbnb brings positive outcomes for restaurants and cafes, but it has some negative effects for some hotel operators. "But what's happening in parts of regional Tasmania at the moment is you've got operators struggling with all the regulations they're faced with,” he revealed, mentioning other operators letting out venues on Airbnb but do not pay the same regulatory costs. Old pointed out an uneven playing field, something they would ensure to deal with.

The Deloitte report on the economic effects of Airbnb in the county stated visitors contributed a total of $410 million to regional economies. McDonagh said Airbnb’s “beating heart” was Australia’s traditional heartland, the regional and remote communities.

“For local communities who have been doing it tough, Airbnb has been an economic lifeline, helping put more money in the back pockets of everyday Australians and regional small businesses and spreading the benefits of the tourism boom more widely,” he said. The Australian notes regional and coastal Queensland obtained the most benefits from Airbnb visitors in 2016, with $160 million spent outside Brisbane. At least 1.7 million Airbnb guests in regional Australia stayed an average of 1.8 nights last year and spent $287 million on accommodation.

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