Launceston's accommodation shortage needs attention

Five years ago, Hobart found itself in the midst of an accommodation shortage.

The popularity of the city had been boosted by the MONA effect.

Tourists wanted to visit Hobart, and they wanted to stay the night. Maybe two nights.

Fast-forward five years, and the city’s tourist pull has not slowed down.

While more hotels have opened up, it’s still not enough.

The city now finds itself in the grips of an affordable rental crisis.

Those landlords who may have previously rented out their properties have seen the need in the market for more short-term accommodation, and jumped on it.

Their properties are now Airbnbs, and are helping to house the thousands of visitors.

In the North, Launceston is the 2012 version of Hobart. Our stock is rising – everyone wants a piece of us.

But it’s beginning to look like there aren’t enough pieces to go around.

This week, a new report has revealed that while there are 350 hotel rooms in planning or construction stages across Launceston, we still need at least 200 more to meet the demand that’s coming.

In January, The Examiner reported that a national, under-18 hockey championship that was planned to be held in Launceston had to be moved to another city.

Even months out, there already was not enough accommodation to host the players, coaches, and cheer squads.

Launceston property owners too are cottoning onto the financial benefits of Airbnb, prompting fears that the city will see a rental shortage.

There have been calls to combat this growth, which has included floating the idea of tighter regulations for properties that fall within the sharing economy.

Talk of a 25-storey hotel in the city looks to challenge the council’s height restrictions, and push the horizons of the Launceston community.

We have to progress. And that means challenging ourselves.

Asking ourselves, just because it’s the way we’ve always done it, is it the way it should continue to be done?

If we don’t act soon, we only need to look 200 kilometres south to see what our future could look like.

There’s no need to change Launceston’s motto to Progress Without Prudence, but we need to make sure we’re exercising prudence with an open mind.