NEWCASTLE has more than doubled its capacity for Airbnb guests since January, the accommodation sharing giant’s figures show.
Exclusive figures supplied to the Newcastle Herald show active listings in the city have hit 770 in Newcastle, up from 300 at the start of this year.
Hosts shared in a $5.2 million slice of the accommodation pie between August last year and the end of July, with 34,800 visitors.
Brent Thomas, Airbnb’s head of public policy in Australia and New Zealand, said the service offered extra capacity that was vital for large events including the November Supercars race.
“Airbnb can help Newcastle attract more guests and grow the tourism pie,” he said. “Everyone in the community shares in the benefits with Airbnb guests staying longer, spending more and spending outside traditional tourist areas.”
Merewether Airbnb host Phil Williams said he and wife Marie decided to try their hand at housing guests after their own trip abroad.
“On the way home from our travel in Scandinavia we talked about whether we could do it,” he said.
“We thought the kids have left home and we’ve got a big house, so why not?”
That was five years ago. Mr Williams and his wife, who are both retired, said they had had no trouble with guests, and only took short bookings at times that suited them. “We are doing it because we want to meet new people, interesting people,” he said. “As well we get a bit of pocket money.”
Some of the couple’s friends have also begun opening their houses through the service in the meantime, he said.
“We’re like a little Airbnb community,” he said. “I’m not surprised [at the growth in Newcastle] at all. It provides such a wide range of accommodation.”
A state government options paper on rules around short-term holiday rentals is open to public comment until October 31. It suggests industry self-regulation, strata regulation, planning regulation and registration as possible changes.
The government noted online booking had simply increased rates of a long-held practice that was “often without planning approvals or incident”.
A Deloitte Access Economics report into Airbnb found it supported more than 1186 jobs and was linked to $213.2 million spent outside Sydney.