Company floats Busselton short stay boat concept

Port Geographe Marina worker Phillip Holdman where a WA company has floated the idea of a boat-style Airbnb accommodation service.
Port Geographe Marina worker Phillip Holdman where a WA company has floated the idea of a boat-style Airbnb accommodation service.

A newly established company which would enable holidaymakers to hire a private vessel through an online booking platform has been floated in Busselton.

Last week Port Geographe residents living on the canals received a letter from Ufloatz enquiring whether they would lease their private jetty to moor a boat.

Similar to Airbnb, boat owners can register their boat on the website to rent out as short stay accommodation giving owners a potential income stream when the boat is not in use.

The concept was born in WA with Ufloatz chief executive Kevin Reichelt saying they were looking at taking the platform Australia-wide and had already had interest from overseas.

"With a shortage of accommodation around the state, in particular high demand times like the school holidays, this provides an alternative and gives people a different experience of holidaying.

"We are looking at mariners up and down the coast with the Department of Transport all the way from Esperance to Exmouth."

Mr Reichelt said they had spoken to a number of local governments, various chamber of commerce and industries and yacht clubs in WA which have shown support for the concept.

However, City of Busselton director of planning and development services Paul Needham said the use of boats as accommodation in the marina pens or moored at private jetties in Port Geographe was not allowed.

"If the City became aware of such use, there would be a number of compliance options available. People should also be aware that there may be insurance, rating or other legal implications of such use," he said.

"As well as not being allowed, this kind of use could have significant implications on water quality and amenity more broadly in and around the canals."

While the option may not be available within Port Geographe, Mr Needham said the city's powers did not extend to Geographe Bay (with the Busselton Jetty being the exception).

Port Geographe Marina manager Karen Lewer said they did not support the concept and had concerns around safety, security, insurance and waste management.

"The marina would not support or promote this in anyway," she said.

A Department of Transport spokesperson said the licensee would need approval from the waterways manager, which in this case is the City of Busselton, and also from the DoT.

"The jetty licence would have to change from a private jetty licence to a commercial jetty licence," the spokesperson said.