Business

Airbnb seeks to work with councils on regulatory issues

Airbnb is putting forward its own blueprint to regulate holiday rentals in New Zealand.

Some local councils in New Zealand have already taken action, introducing bed taxes and looking at visitor levies to level the playing field.

Airbnb's head of public policy for Australia and New Zealand, Derek Nolan, told Morning Report the company was having monthly, if not weekly conversations with councils around the country.

He said Airbnb's focus on bed taxes in New Zealand had started with a discussion with Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult.

As a popular tourist destination, Queenstown has had trouble with shortages of housing for workers in the area.

"He convinced us of the need for the contribution of the tourism accommodation sector in areas where tourism really plays a significant role in infrastructure," Nolan said.

While Nolan supported regulation, he said it was important to recognise the differences in Airbnb's business model.

"Some people will have a room that they rent out on Airbnb for a number of months a year, some will do it for one or two months while the kids are at college, and others will have a second property that they have on Airbnb almost full time round."

Recognising this, he said a bed tax should be charged on a night-by-night basis.

A national approach to regulation would also have to allow for the ability of councils - such as Queenstown - to have their own policy objectives and tools beyond bed taxes to work with.

"Why not let's get together now and have a discussion with central government, local government and ourselves and the rest of the industry and see if we can put in place 21st century laws for our 21st century business model."

This article was originally published on RNZ and re-published with permission.

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