Air supply bringing heartbreak for Ballarat motel operators

Tim Canny from Sovereign Park Motor Inn says Airbnb is making it tough for motels to find business even at the busiest time. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric
Tim Canny from Sovereign Park Motor Inn says Airbnb is making it tough for motels to find business even at the busiest time. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

BALLARAT motel owners want council action on accommodation providers like Airbnb.

As the region prepares for its busiest two tourist weekends of the year, operators say they facing an uneven battle, with many visitors choosing to stay in unregulated accommodation.

They have called on Ballarat City Council to implement strategies that give them an “even playing field”. 

Sovereign Park Motor Inn manager Tim Canny said unregulated providers are not subject to the same building standards and codes which include fire control, disability access or commercial insurance premiums.

“Residential properties that are solely used for short-term tourist accommodation are not paying commercial rates,” Mr Canny said.

“Sharing economy platforms, such as Airbnb, do no employ staff under the same conditions as bricks and mortar tourism accommodation businesses.” 

Gavin James is the owner of Lake Wendouree Luxury Apartments. Picture Luka Kauzlaric

Gavin James is the owner of Lake Wendouree Luxury Apartments. Picture Luka Kauzlaric

A search on the Airbnb website revealed just nine per cent availability in the region for White Night on March 17. It is understood there are more than 500 different Airbnb operators in Ballarat, 

However Mr Canny said the Sovereign Park Motor Inn, which has a four-and-a-half star rating, was so far only half booked for that night.

Lake Wendouree Luxury Apartments owner Gavin James said it was up to local law makers to provide assistance for legitimate businesses.

“There are places around the world that have put restrictions on operators such as not allowing Airbnb’s to operate within 5km of the city, having every property listed with the council, things like that,” Mr James said.

“We need a level playing field which is a minimum criteria for short-term accommodation providers to meet. Accommodation associations and Visit Ballarat must only support providers that are compliant and failure to comply should result in financial penalties.” 

City of Ballarat Infrastructure and Environment Director Terry Demeo said the city did not regulate the likes of Airbnb, adding there was no state or legislative framework in place for the city to administer.

“The council had not formed a position (towards future legislative framework),” Mr Demeo said.

Airbnb has been contacted for comment