Airbnb hosts happy to pay to join Orange tourism group as long as it pays dividends

AWAY STAY: Airbnb host Jeffery Chapman with Orange Region Tourism interim executive officer Justin Byrne. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1109jkair1
AWAY STAY: Airbnb host Jeffery Chapman with Orange Region Tourism interim executive officer Justin Byrne. Photo: JUDE KEOGH 1109jkair1

Orange’s Airbnb hosts are willing to pay to help promote local tourism – as long as they benefit from it.

The newly-announced chairman of the Orange Region Tourism [ORT] body, Peter Robson, has called on all accommodation providers in Orange, including the 160 Airbnb hosts, to join the organisation which will officially operate from January.

Annual fees ranging up to $330 would be used to promote and develop Orange as a tourist attraction.

Mr Robson said that if they were not willing to voluntarily sign up, the body might look at calling for a tourism levy to be placed on all operators.

Hosts contacted by the Central Western Daily, and the Airbnb head of public policy Brent Thomas, said it should be voluntary.

“We would support a tourism or bed tax to support the local community, provided it is levied on all accommodation providers,” Mr Thomas said.

“We are eager to work with the council, ORT and the community about how best to turbocharge the economy and grow the tourism pie.

“We would welcome the opportunity to sit down and talk with ORT in greater depth about what they want to achieve and how our community can play its part.”

Jeffery Chapman has run an Airbnb property opposite Cook Park for nearly two years.

“I’d prefer it to be voluntary, I think it would be very hard to be made mandatory,” he said.

Mr Chapman said his property already assisted the local economy by hiring cleaning staff and referring visitors to wineries.

Edwina Bishop, who runs an Airbnb cottage in Byng Street, said she would join the new group as long as it provided benefits in return.

“I’d want to have a look at it,” she said.

“We’d be part of anything to help the whole Orange tourism and accommodation industry.”

Accommodation providers have been invited to a meeting at 5.30pm on Wednesday November 15 at the Eighteen 70 restaurant in March Street.

ORT interim executive officer Justin Byrne said it would be an information session where providers would be asked to join.

“We’ll be putting the case of ORT membership and taking questions, we want to connect,” he said.