Malaysia is Airbnb’s fastest-growing market in South-East Asia

Currently there are 44,000 Airbnb listings in Malaysia, marking a 60% increase YoY

By LYDIA NATHAN / Pic By TMR File

Airbnb Malaysia has recorded a 99% year-on-year (YoY) growth in guests arrivals or two million guests as of July 1, 2018, making it the fastest-growing market in South-East Asia. Currently there are 44,000 listings in Malaysia, marking a 60% increase YoY.

“Globally, the third quarter (3Q) of 2018 marked the strongest in our history. To date, there have been more than 400 million guest arrivals in Airbnb listings around the world,” said Airbnb head of public policy of South-East Asia Mich Goh (picture).

She added that Airbnb recognised substantially more than US$1 billion (RM4.19 billion) in revenue worldwide in the 1Q.

Goh also said the hospitality company is currently in talks with relevant authorities to sign an agreement that will allow it to introduce a voluntary collection agreement (VCA) to its guests on the platform.

The VCA is a tool designed by Airbnb to collect tourism taxes from guests on behalf of hosts, aiming to streamline the process and lessen the administrative burden for local and state governments.

“We have had talks with various stakeholders including the Ministry of Finance, the Royal Malaysian Customs Department and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture so we can collect them and send them straight to the Customs,” she said during a media briefing in Kuala Lumpur (KL) yesterday.

Goh said this will ensure the host can avoid the hassle of registering and figuring out where to apply the tax for their listings online.

“The majority are individuals, they have no help from accountants or tax experts, so we are volunteering to do it for them. It is a simple way to ensure compliance,” she said.

“As it is a legal document, it is still a work in progress and with the change of the government, it will take time — but hopefully we can find a step forward,” Goh explained.

Meanwhile, Airbnb signed a memorandum of collaboration with the Malaysian Productivity Council (MPC), aiming to share data and best practices with the government on short-term rentals and its policies in the country.

Goh said Airbnb will assist MPC to shape the national policy related to the development of Malaysia’s tourism industry and infrastructure, as well as local communities.

“The government has been open in conducting dialogue with us, and we have a lot of information to share with them. We want to work together to see how the tourism industry can evolve in Malaysia,” she said.

Subsequently, Airbnb also signed a second memorandum of understanding with Malaysia Digital Economy Corp to focus on promoting digital inclusion and empower local hospitality entrepreneurs in Malaysia.

Goh said it is the first travel platform to enter into a partnership with the local government agency.

“We work with hosts and their guests to ensure both benefit equally from their stay. Every country, of course, is different — so we take that into consideration. We want to be able to have dialogue with other players like hotel groups, communities and neighbourhoods,” she said.

On another note, Airbnb kickstarted its programme where the firm held an Airbnb Experiences training workshop for local guides who have already provided personalised trips for foreign and domestic tourists in Penang.

Goh said the company will look into doing the same for guides in KL next year.

“We hope to continue this momentum into next year, and by allowing more communities to benefit, it can not only create an impact to our tourism industry, but also provide a side income for participating individuals,” she said.