Prominent hotelier and AHA SA President, Peter Hurley, has slammed the “untaxed, totally unregulated” Airbnb, and complicit parties including the former Lord Mayor.
Speaking at an AHA Christmas lunch, in front of SA Premier Jay Weatherill and treasurer Tom Koutsantonis, Hurley spoke of the realities of the trendy ‘disruptive’ technologies, such as the self-proclaimed “world’s biggest accommodation provider”, Airbnb.
Hurley spoke of the illusion of such a claim, and how the app-based booking site for regular people to rent out their own space is hurting not helping the Australian economy.
As licensed Innkeepers, hotels are subject to strenuous conditions to ensure premises are safe and compliant for public use. They must offer suitable amenities and facilities subject to health and safety regulations, and guests and employees must be insured for public risk.
They are also major contributors to the economy, effectively distributing lucrative tourism and hospitality dollars to the community by way of employment as well as state and national taxes, including commercial Council rates, income tax and superannuation.
Hurley also cited his disappointment around a recent Sunday Mail article about “a former high-profile Local Government identity” who is letting out the loft in his home via Airbnb.
The identity in question was former Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood, who responded through Sunday Mail suggesting Hurley and other hotel operators are merely protecting their own “monopolies” and failing to grasp the innovative technology.
“Very few hotels in Adelaide are locally owned and he is championing money going offshore rather than entrepreneurial small businesses putting money back into the local economy,” said Yarwood.
“This is digitally illiterate conservative Adelaide scared of losing its grip on making easy money — they are scared of change and want to keep their monopolies.”
But Hurley’s speech had effectively addressed the criticisms, after a sound argument refuting the upstart business that included assessment of the inevitable “tax leakage” and unemployment, and accusations of attempts to “de-industrialise the nation” through a return to cottage industry.
“It is therefore bunkum to say that this is simply old business struggling to compete with new business, or even somehow scared of competition,” said the recent recipient of Ernst & Young’s award for Entrepreneur of the Year.
“In reality, it is the highly taxed, heavily regulated, significant employer of workers, engaged in toe-to-toe competition with the untaxed, totally unregulated who employ nobody.”
PubTIC contacted Yarwood for clarification of his statement about untaxed homeowners renting spare rooms being considered “entrepreneurial small businesses”, but was told a response was not possible prior to today’s publication.