Airbnb Australia boss Brent Thomas has called out the Australian hotel lobby for its “draconian” legislations as the home-sharing app fails to win legal status in Australian states.
While South Australia and Tasmania recently passed laws legalising the app, others including NSW are still debating regulations.
Speaking to The Australian, Thomas slammed the lobby for its backwards approach to tourism which merely protects “old world vested interests”.
“We’ve applied to join Tourism Accommodation Australia and the Accommodation Association of Australia, and they’ve said no.”
“These bodies purport to represent Australia’s tourism sector. But actually they’re a backward-looking pocket watch brigade that are just protecting the old world big players.
Thomas criticised the industry for being unwilling to embrace changes in tourism, and claimed it was in Australia’s interest to get more people visiting the country, regardless of their accommodation.
“The big hotel lobby are scared of something that consumers have overwhelmingly voted with their feet about.”
“This country has the highest percentage of active Airbnb users in the world, but what we’ve got is a vested interested old school industry which is denying and opposing the change consumers have already embraced.”
“Three quarters of our guests stay out of traditional hotel areas, so that’s money going to cafes, restaurants and the local pub.”
Thomas also shone a light on the practices of Australian Hotels Association (AHA) chairman Martin Ferguson, who Thomas accused of changing his stand on the matter since taking on the chairman position, according to The Oz.
“It was his job was to get more people to visit Australia as the minister, and he didn’t care where they stayed.”
“Now, because he’s an advocate for the big hotel lobby, he is in effect advocating for less people to come to Australia. That’s a natural extension of his argument,” Thomas added.
Speaking to Travel Weekly in response to the claims, CEO of Tourism Accommodation Australia, Carol Giuseppi, said the hotel industry is far from being “old world”.
“For Airbnb to decry traditional accommodation as ‘old world’ demonstrates a lack of understanding of the innovation occurring in the industry,” she said.
“It’s important to recognise that the industry is not opposed to sharing and hosted accommodation overall. The industry accepts that,” Giuseppi added.
She said the main issue is with residential properties being converted into professional, permanent, commercial tourist accommodation, without the safety and other regulations that hotels guarantee.
As for innovation in the hotel industry, Giuseppi listed a series of new products coming onto the market in the near future, including Sky Hotel Suites, Sofitel Darling Harbour, lifestyle and wellness brands like Even Hotels from IHG and innovative technology brands such as NEXT Hotels who are bypassing the conventional check-in process so guests can get to their rooms more seamlessly.
“Marriott worldwide also has invested in a product called PlacePass, that offers travellers an online meta-search platform for in-destination experiences,” she added.