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Calls for tourism fairness

ELISA VORSTER
[email protected]

Tourism is on the rise but pleas are being made to the region’s councils to force Airbnb property owners to pay their share in the industry.

Destination Wairarapa chief executive David Hancock pictured, addressed the Carterton District Council at Wednesday’s meeting to present the latest report on tourism activity in Wairarapa.

The overall vibe of the presentation was positive, with the average number of nights guests stayed for in February at 1.9 nights, compared with Taupo’s 1.74, and a national average of 1.88.

Wairarapa was also growing at a stronger rate than most, percentage wise, for international guest stays, which sat at a 20 per cent share of the region’s total guest nights.

Dollar spend was another figure on the rise, estimated at around $182 million for the 12 months ending February 2018.

This was a $6.91m increase from the November quarterly results.

Mr Hancock said events such as the Golden Shears, Harvest Festival, the A&P show, and the Vantage Age Group Road National Championships were all major contributors to the increase in spend.

However, he asked the council as part of its Long Term Plan to look at the 33 houses in Carterton registered on Airbnb who were not giving other accommodation providers a fair chance.

He was also asking the three councils to work together to bring in “millions of corporate sponsorship” dollars to properly fund upcoming events.

“We’ve lost two major events and we have just lost another which hosts thousands of international guests, because the corporate sponsorship wasn’t there.”

He told the Times-Age last month that any business which benefitted from tourism should either be contributing to the industry through their regional tourism organisation or through their rates as a business.

He wasn’t backing down from his stance, telling councillors on Wednesday that while he thought Airbnb was great, it did not provide others in the industry with a level playing field.

“What’s not helpful to the industry is that it’s not fair.

“Private accommodation is turning over more than motels and not paying a commercial rate.”

He said while the figures from the commercial accommodation monitor were positive, they did not provide an accurate reflection on tourism in the region as it didn’t include stays at Airbnb accommodation.

“It’s not a full picture of what’s going on in Carterton,” he said.

Destination Wairarapa board member Tina Nixon also added it was only beginning to see the effects Airbnb was having on the industry.

“The implications were hidden, but the implications for the whole Wairarapa are quite significant.”

There are around 235 Airbnb listings in the region – 150 of which are in South Wairarapa and 52 in Masterton.

1 COMMENT

  1. In my view, David Hancock is comparing apples with lemons or oranges: look at the Airbnb Masterton page and you will see most are private rooms on offer; that is a single room with a bed and shared facilities, all for a low price. Lower than most hotels or motels charge. The lower price is a trade off for the lack of independant toilet and bathroom, or even kitchen facilities. And one should not forget that the local caravan site offers cabins for $60 so who is causing other accommodation providers loss of income, etc????

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