Airbnb-Vic govt JV to provide natural disaster accommodation solution

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Australia will be the first country outside the US to facilitate low-cost accommodation for people displaced by natural disasters.
Australia will be the first country outside the US to facilitate low-cost accommodation for people displaced by natural disasters.

In an Australian first, the Victorian government will partner with online booking company Airbnb to strengthen short-term accommodation arrangements for people forced to flee from significant emergencies including fire and flood.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Kim Wells said the Airbnb Disaster Response Service agreement, which will facilitate free or low cost accommodation for people displaced by emergencies with registered hosts, was the first formal agreement of its kind to be signed outside of America.

"Victoria is leading the country by providing this convenient, popular and secure service, which will bolster short-term accommodation arrangements for those people who require assistance in times of emergency," he said.

"Victorians have a great tradition of offering help to others in times of need, and this is an innovative way of allowing Airbnb's more than 4000 registered hosts and other community members who have holiday houses or available rooms, to offer temporary accommodation.

"This new arrangement is just another way the Coalition Government can help provide an avenue for connecting generous community members who are willing to open their doors to others in their time of need, and it will be ready in time for the upcoming fire season."

Wells said the agreement between Emergency Management Victoria and Airbnb will mean:

  • Airbnb will identify registered hosts who have committed to opening their doors to displaced persons and emergency services personnel when an emergency occurs and accommodation options are required;
  • Airbnb technology will notify hosts and guests about significant emergencies and that the Airbnb Disaster Response Service is available;
  • Hosts will be provided with emergency preparedness educational materials and have access to community education programs; and
  • The platform will be available to people not currently registered, but who want to offer accommodation during emergencies.

"This agreement is a great example of community-based emergency preparedness, and highlights Victoria's support of innovative thinking.

Wells said a similar agreement exists between Airbnb and the American cities of Portland and San Francisco.

Airbnb is a global marketplace that matches people listing available short-term accommodation with travellers, allowing them to book accommodation online and via mobile phone.

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