Rotorua accommodation providers are gearing up for a bumper Christmas and while Airbnb has taken a chunk of the market most believe it has offered visitors another alternative.

But the sector was still calling for Airbnb to be treated like businesses while the giant itself said it supported a tourism or bed tax.

Tourism Industry Aotearoa regional chairman for Rotorua hotels Blair Chalmers said indications suggested the Christmas period would be up 3 per cent on last year.

Its members had 13 hotels in Rotorua that accounted for 1595 rooms.


Chalmers was not aware of any hotels being booked out for the Christmas period yet but
''most are holding slightly more than last year''.

''However, the weather can play a big part in what actually eventuates during the Christmas and New Year period.''

Airbnb also had some affect on hotels, he said.

''With over 2000 rooms online in Airbnb and the Book a Bach type sites, here in the city, it does effect the trading patterns of the hotels.''

Rotorua Association of Motels chairman Martin Althuizen said his establishment, Executive on Fenton, was close to full through the peak holiday time.

The association had more than 50 members and there was an extra rush and demand for accommodation from Christmas Day into early January - ''with most feeling pretty happy''.

In his view Airbnb had impacted the most on the middle to lower end of the market.

''We have actually put submissions into council that there needs to be some clarity between these operators and motels. It's a bit of an ongoing issue, there is a place for them as there is not enough accommodation in Rotorua obviously ... Airbnb are allowed up to 100 nights but there is nobody out there policing it.''


Alan Sciascia, Waikato and Bay of Plenty regional manager for Hospitality New Zealand, said there was a place in market for Airbnb but it wanted them to be treated like businesses.

Destination Rotorua consumer marketing manager Tom Worsp said the shared economy was something that has become more prevalent over the past few years as consumers came to grips with technology.

Tom Worsp. Photo/fil
Tom Worsp. Photo/fil

''However this isn't just limited to the accommodation sector as we have seen with Uber, Mighway, Yourdrive and others coming into the market. The advantage is with the consumer as they now have more choice, however, just like every other sector, there are wider concerns regarding regulation and recourse.''

Worsp said Rotorua had the full range of accommodation options from luxury lodges through to holiday parks that could cater for every visitor on every budget.

''We are lucky.''

Visitor spend had also been increasing. The visitor industry is striving to achieve a $1.5b visitor economy in Rotorua by 2030 and has jumped from $680m in 2015 to $802m in 2017.

Airbnb's New Zealand Public Policy head Brent Thomas said the way Kiwis travelled and used their homes had changed.

''People often don't want to travel how their parents or grandparents did 10 or 20 years ago, they want a more authentic and sustainable type of travel. It is why everyday Kiwis have overwhelmingly voted with their feet and embraced home sharing. There are now more than 700,000 Airbnb users in New Zealand.''

Tourism accommodation is not a zero-sum game; for the Airbnb community to grow, no provider has to shrink, Thomas said.

He said the big hotel lobby in New Zealand fought tooth and nail against tourism or bed taxes. In stark contrast, Airbnb supports a tourism or bed tax provided it is levied on all providers.

''We have partnered with over 340 jurisdictions and raised more than $510 million in tourism taxes across the world, with revenue going towards benefiting the local community.''

Rotorua visitor spend to June
* 2015 $680m
* 2016 $747m
* 2017 $802m
- Source Destination Rotorua