The rapid growth of the sharing economy in recent years has challenged traditional economies in many countries around the globe. A very prominent example in tourism is the online platform Airbnb that enables people to list, find and book accommodations worldwide with more than 3 million listings in more than 190 countries. Many consider Airbnb as one of the most disruptive developments in tourism over the past decade. 

Although Airbnb has also become a reality in Western Australia (WA) information on its extent and impact on the state’s tourism sector was scant. 

This study has significantly contributed to closing the existing knowledge gap on the Airbnb phenomenon in WA by addressing the following key research questions: 

• What are key stakeholders’ perceptions of the sharing economy and Airbnb in WA? 

• What is the extent of Airbnb supply and demand in WA and what are its main attributes? 

• To what degree does Airbnb demand differ from conventional demand? 

• What policy responses have been employed in other tourism destinations worldwide in response to Airbnb? 

The report’s analysis draws on a range of data sources, including the International and National Visitor Surveys conducted by Tourism Research Australia, online data provided by Inside Airbnb and semi-structured interviews with 12 industry and government stakeholders. Furthermore, destination responses in 9 international case studies were reviewed and a brief snapshot of selected cases from Australia also included in this report. 

The study’s findings offer new empirical insights, which will be of interest to government agencies and the tourism sector and will be a valuable source of data to inform (current) policy debate.

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