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Byron Shire
March 6, 2021

Battle over regions tourism future heats up

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The battle over the future of the regions tourism industry is heating up as Byron Shire Councils gets closer to their submission to the state government on short term holiday lets.

The submission is partly based on the council’s Sustainable Visitation Strategy (SVS) which is currently on public exhibition with submissions from the public closing this Friday, 11 December.

The planning proposal to the state government marks out areas in which short term rentals would only be allowed to operate for 90 days per year, instead of the current 365.

Emails obtained by The Echo show organised opposition from short term rental company ‘A Perfect Stay’. The email which was authored by a former council staffer, Sarah Workman, calls on ‘valued creditors’ of the business to sign a letter to the state government calling for the continuation of 365-days short term rentals across the entire area. This is in contrast to the current proposal of having 90-day rental limits across significant parts of the shire.

Ms Workman offers to submit the attached proforma letters signed by customers on their behalf to both the state government on short term holiday letting and to the council in response to the SVS.

She writes, ‘Collectively, we aim to have an impact and maintain 365 days of short-term rental accommodation in Byron Shire. This will ensure all our businesses and our staff continue to thrive’.

This sort of organised lobbying is not uncommon but re-emphasises the importance of community engagement to counter private interests. Locals worried about the proliferation of short- term rentals in the area should seek to make their voices heard through the channel available to them through the council. 

The call for regulation  

A study by Southern Cross University into the effect of Airbnb on the Byron Shire found that most respondents (including Airbnb hosts) agreed that the industry needed better regulation.

Undoubtedly, the positive impacts on job prospects, tourism numbers and job opportunities were substantial. However, the study found that many of these positive impacts were offset by an oversupply of short-term rentals that were contributing to the regions already severe housing and congestion issues.

Doug Luke, Co-Coordinator of Victims of Holiday Letting, believes that by regulating certain areas a balance can be struck between locals and the tourism industry.

‘All that we are asking for is to ensure there is a strong code of conduct like what already exists for hotels so that if there are complaints, the manager or the owner actually have to turn up and solve it.’

‘We have no objection to people letting a room in their house and making some extra cash, but we believe ideally there should always be a manager or owner on premises.’

Mr Luke believes that people looking to create year-round accommodation should have to register and pay fees just as other accommodations such as motels, hotels and hostels already do.

It is estimated that the short-term rental market generates over $1 billion in revenue annually and employs tens of thousands of people directly and indirectly through cleaning and other services. However, increasing issues around housing supply and sustainability have placed them under the legislative spotlight in recent years as state governments around the country from Western Australia to NSW scramble to regulate the industry.

Council is still accepting submissions and feedback that will go towards the final proposal to the state government. To have your say visit: https://www.yoursaybyronshire.com.au/svs


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1 COMMENT

  1. About time!
    1. Air B&B destroys communities.
    2. Byron Shire is long overdue for a tourism management plan that removes non local traffic from the equation.
    3. West Byron is the beginning of a new era where we risk becoming satellite suburbs of Brisbane.
    4. NSW Govt can’t just keep giving open slather to development.
    5. Everybody please vote at next Council election with these issues in mind.

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