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Researchers monitor Airbnb impacts on Byron Shire accommodation providers


Jessica Nelson
16 March 2020
STHL story

New research from Southern Cross University found that 33% of Approved Accommodation Providers (AAPs) in the Byron Shire considered selling their business due to disruption from short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb.

Well before coronavirus was a major factor affecting tourism locally, the researchers from the School of Business and Tourism (SBAT) undertook a series of surveys to understand the effects that short-term rental platforms have on local communities and AAPs.

The latest AAP research project followed a 2018 study of Byron Shire and a 2019 study of 12 other council areas in the NSW North Coast about residents’ views on the impacts of Airbnb in the community. All projects were conducted by SBAT researchers’ Drs Deborah Che, Tania von der Heidt, Sabine Muschter, and Rodney Caldicott.

The research project began following a Seed Funding Grant from SBAT with joint-funding from the Byron Shire Council. The AAP impacts report has recently been presented to Byron Shire Council.

Informed by the earlier studies, seven semi-structured interviews were conducted with a diverse array of key informants directly from the accommodation, tourism, neighbourhood and government sectors. This interview data further informed the development of an online survey instrument, with a total of 57 useable responses from AAPs – about half of Byron Shire’s total AAPs.

“The survey results indicate that the increasing prevalence of Short-term Rental Accommodation (STRA) in the Byron Shire is causing financial hardship for some approved accommodation providers,” Dr Muschter said. 

“In contrast with the short-term rental accommodation sector, approved accommodation providers pay higher commercial rates, infrastructure servicing levies, have to provide car parking for their guests, and are also subject to stringent fire safety regulations and insurance policies for their guests. None of these apply to owners of short-term rental properties, which has led to claims by the majority of AAPs that the Shire has an uneven playing field.”

“The knowledge from this research has contributed locally to decision-making regarding the Planning Proposal that the Byron Shire Council submitted to the NSW Minister of Planning, Industry & Environment in March 2020.”

A spokesperson from Byron Shire Council said the aim of its planning proposal is to minimise the impacts of short-term rental activity on permanent rental housing supply, residential amenity, local character and community; while still allowing for a diversity in type and tenure of visitor accommodation options in Byron Shire.


Some key survey findings:

  1. More than 80% of respondents felt that the growth of STRA in the Byron Shire has led/contributed to an oversupply of tourist accommodation in certain parts of the Byron Shire, decreased the potential commercial viability of approved accommodation businesses, and created an unequal playing field for AAPs.
  2. Over the last two financial reporting years, over 80% of respondents stated that their business saw decreases in occupancy rate, average net-rate and net revenue.
  3. There was agreement among the respondents that the growth of STRA in the Byron Shire has resulted in them having to work harder in their accommodation job and feeling anxious and stressed.
  4. In terms of day limits on STRA, most respondents preferred a regulatory model, which involved on-site management for any STRA.
  5. Most respondents felt that STRA needs to be better regulated. Nearly all respondents suggested that regulation should include adequate enforcement of non-compliance and reporting avenues to lodge complaints of misconduct and a mandatory local government operated register for all STRA. Respondents agreed that non-hosted STRAs should pay commercial council rates, as do AAPs.

The full report is available here: Impacts of STRA on AAPs Report to Byron Shire Council