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May 18, 2021

Do you want to have your say on STHL?

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From festivals to New Year’s Eve, to the simple fact that the Far North Coast is just paradise, the question of where all of these extra non-residents stay is always on the table as a subject for discussion.

To find out more about what you think, Southern Cross University is providing the opportunity for Ballina Shire Council residents to submit feedback on Short-term Holiday Letting (STHL) in their local government area.

It’s not only Byron Bay

Byron Bay is not the only coastal town dealing with this issue. With communities along NSW’s Mid North and North Coast grappling with the growth of AirBnB, Stayz and the like, 12 councils and the region’s peak tourism body have partnered with Southern Cross University to give residents a voice in a new survey.

Southern Cross University’s School of Business and Tourism’s Dr Tania von der Heidt says it’s all about evidence-based decision-making. ‘Airbnb, the largest, fastest-growing short-term holiday letting (STHL) platform, particularly raises polarised opinions across the North Coast,’ said Dr von der Heidt. ‘It is the subject of ongoing debate concerning affordable housing versus tourism development.

‘Policymakers need to have comprehensive, reliable, and evidence-based information on their locations. Community members and traditional accommodation providers want to better understand the impacts of STHL in their residential streets, neighbourhood and local government areas. Calls are being made to regulate STHL across the region more effectively.’

I welcome enquiries into Airbnb and it’s impacts in our community. As a Councillor, I have received numerous complaints from residents regarding AirBNBs.

Cr Keith William welcomes enquiries into STHL

Ballina Councillor Keith Williams. who is also Chair of Rous County Council says he welcomes enquiries into Airbnb and its impacts in our community. ‘As a councillor, I have received numerous complaints from residents regarding AirBnBs,’ he said. ‘Almost all involved a whole house being let and subsequent noise and disturbance of neighbours.

‘I cannot recall a complaint where the homeowner was present.

Cr Williams says that AirBnB is providing opportunities for people to earn extra income, increasing the range of tourist accommodation options and enabling some people to stay in popular areas where they may otherwise need to leave.

‘This is the good side. The downside is the loss of long term rentals for locals, higher prices for rents (you’re now competing for that bed) and the intrusion of tourist activities in previously quiet residential areas. They can also undermine the financial viability of dedicated tourist accommodation providers.

‘I think there needs to be a greater level of regulation at the local government level, to ensure this new industry doesn’t get out of control.’

Demand for comparable data between areas

More than 800 residents completed the Byron Shire STHL survey, outlining the positive and negative impacts of STHL, specifically Airbnb, on their community.

‘There is particular demand for comparable data sets across and between council areas to understand why different regions and even different towns within one shire might need different planning responses, or interventions, on STHL,’ said Dr von der Heidt.

According to the latest data from Destination North Coast, the NSW North Coast’s multiple tourist hubs are valued at approximately $12.5 million per day. Even though tourism generates 9.4 per cent of regional jobs and supports 7,000 business, the North Coast faces many tourism pressures, not least from the burgeoning peer-to-peer accommodation platforms.

‘The new knowledge from this latest research project will contribute locally to inform civic decision-making,’ said Dr von der Heidt.

‘To have a consistent supply-side approach to planning and policy for STHL operations across the whole region, rather than only coastal hotspots, will be beneficial for the multitude of stakeholders: destination marketers; general residents; Airbnb hosts; Airbnb guests; and not least, administering councils.

‘The research will provide benchmarking information to guide future decision-making around location-applicable regulation of STHL.’

You can take part in the survey here – https://scuau.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_0NkAJivWR4R3bYF

Feedback closes Thursday 31 October 2019.

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