As the home-sharing service Airbnb continues to grow in Calgary, with more than 2,000 listings currently available in the city, Alberta's hotel industry is feeling uneasy.
The Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association is asking the government to follow in the footsteps of other jurisdictions and start regulating the short-term rental business.
Dave Kaiser, president and CEO of the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association, spoke with the Calgary Eyeopener about why the industry wants to see rules for Airbnb, such as having users pay into the same four-per-cent tourism levy hotels do.
The following is an edited version of the conversation.
Q: When you go on the Airbnb website and search "Calgary" and you see all that's available, what do you think?
I think we've got a growing problem for sure, that certainly impacts our industry but also has other unintended consequences.
Q: Why is this a problem?
From a perspective of a level playing field, what we've seen in many cities are what we would call commercial operators, where we have folks that are actually renting units on a full-time basis. From the data we've seen, that represents maybe a minority of the actual listings on platforms like Airbnb, but constitutes the majority of the revenues.
So when we're looking at that, we see these operators are really operating like hotels, but in terms of regulations around our business, they're totally not the same.
Q: You also have thousands of homeowners finding a way to make a little cash off some unused space. Is there anything wrong with that?
I think if we have the proper regulatory framework. We're not scared of competition. But at this point in time, there's very little that exists that pertains to those types of operations.
Q: How much competition are you getting from Airbnb?
In Alberta, it's still a bit of an emerging issue. Clearly, the numbers in Calgary are growing and significant. But what we've seen in other major cities like Toronto and Vancouver, it's representing about five per cent of the market already.
This thing has potential to really become significant in a big hurry, and we just think there's some straightforward regulations and legislation that applies to our industry that should apply to that as well.
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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener