Airbnb has responded to the Welsh Government’s consultation on a statutory licensing scheme for overnight visitor accommodation, emphasising that any new rules should protect Hosts and the benefits they bring to the tourism economy in Wales.
We recognise the historic housing and tourism challenges facing Wales and having long led the way in calling for fair regulation across the UK, we welcome the opportunity to submit a response to the Welsh Government’s consultation on new rules for overnight accommodation, including short-term lets. We will work closely and constructively with the Welsh Government on the details of their proposals as we seek to ensure that new rules deliver clarity for Hosts, communities and local authorities.
The vast majority of Hosts in Wales on Airbnb share just one listing, often their main home, with the typical UK Host earning just over £6,000 a year1 – equivalent to two months of additional pay for the median UK household. With almost four in ten Hosts saying they use the income from Airbnb to afford the rising cost of living2, listing their space can often be an economic lifeline for many.
We are calling for a national system which is consistent across Wales, that is online, simple and easy to use for Hosts while giving the Welsh Government, local authorities and other public bodies data on short-term letting and other accommodation activity. Fees should be proportionate to the scale and type of Hosting activity, acknowledging the big difference between buy-to-let speculators and Hosts who occasionally share their homes on Airbnb to make ends meet.
In trying economic times, it is essential that those sharing a space in their home and making a vibrant economic contribution to the Welsh tourism recovery are not discouraged by any new rules.
Theo Lomas, Head of Public Policy and Government Relations, Northern Europe, said, “Hosting provides vital income to many families across Wales as the cost of living continues to rise. New rules must be affordable and easy to understand if they are to work for everyone, and ensure that Welsh households are not prevented from sharing their homes and accessing income they cannot afford to lose. We look forward to working with the Welsh government to unlock the benefits of hosting for regular people while clamping down on speculators and big businesses that drive housing concerns and overtourism.”
Airbnb plays a valuable role in Wales’ tourism economy. According to a study by Oxford Economics, Airbnb guests are estimated to have contributed £107 million to the Welsh economy and directly supported 3,613 jobs in 2019. More than a third of these were in the restaurant industry, and around a quarter in retail. Airbnb guests are estimated to have supported 6.8% of all tourism activity in Wales, equivalent to 0.2% of Wales’ total GDP.
Last year, Airbnb announced its Healthy Tourism Commitment for the UK to support the introduction of fair rules for short-term lets, spread tourism and its benefits in partnership with communities, and tackle noise, nuisance and issues in the community.