AIRING CONCERNS: Tourism Noosa CEO Steve McPharlin addresses local concerns at the short-term rental roundtable.
AIRING CONCERNS: Tourism Noosa CEO Steve McPharlin addresses local concerns at the short-term rental roundtable. Peter Gardiner

Something in the Airbnb for Noosa

AS THE Noosa Council sought to gain greater controls and transparency over online short-term house letting, the flagship Airbnb rallied local hosts to attend last week's local public forum and have their say.

The booking service sent out an alert on the Noosa J meeting hosted by the LNP Noosa branch and attended by Mayor Tony Wellington with details on how to attend. And along with the round-table hosts, the councillor who has been leading the push to curtail the short-term letting impacts on local communities, is unimpressed by this response.

The email came to the notice of the LNP branch, which was upset that the council was cited as the meeting organiser and an LNP Noosa official requested a clarification via email.

"Our reputation is based on being a builder of partnerships across all groups and your broadcast has caused damage to our round-table's name by conflating our name with that of the Noosa Shire Council,” it said.

Cr Wellington said Airbnb was targeting Noosa, just as they were elsewhere to dominate the letting debate.

"Airbnb's Noosa clients were informed of the recent Gordon Simpson Round-table forum on short-term online letting, incorrectly telling them that the event was being run by Noosa Council. The email urged its hosts to attend the forum and have their say,” the Mayor said.

"I acknowledge that this is their democratic right, but we also need to hear from residents who take a different viewpoint. It seems that council will be receiving a flood of submissions on the draft planning scheme from Airbnb clients, prompted and no doubt loaded with information provided by the platform.”

Airbnb's head of public policy for Australasia, South Asia and South East Asia, Brent Thomas, said: "Our local community of hosts and guests are passionate about ensuring their voices are heard in the policy debate. They attended the public event so they could respectfully share their views, as well as to listen to the views of the community and elected representatives.”

Mayor Wellington said not all short-term rentals created problems.

"Noosa Council's draft planning scheme does seek to distinguish between genuinely home-hosted properties, which can occur as home-based businesses anywhere in the shire, and entire houses or units that are being let without a host being present,” he said.

"Many of the latter are effectively and appropriately managed by local letting agents. But many more are not being properly managed, and may be generating conflicts with local residents.”

An Airbnb representative said in the mail out: "The Noosa Shire Council is hosting a discussion focussed on regulating home sharing in Noosa, which may impact on how you can share your home.

"The meeting invite also provides a range of questions hosts might like to put to the forum including: How would unfair, expensive or burdensome regulations impact you?”

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