Airbnb contributed RM4b to Malaysian GDP in 2019

The spillover impact had benefitted retailers, restaurateurs and other local tourism players

by AFIQ AZIZ/ pic by RAZAK GHAZALI

VACATION rental online marketplace, Airbnb Inc, contributed as much as RM3.98 billion to Malaysia’s GDP and supported 52,100 local jobs last year, based on the Oxford Economics Ltd latest report.

The findings revealed Airbnb has emerged as a platform driving tourism across Malaysia and Airbnb guests spent a total of RM11.8 billion from 2015 to 2019, registering an annual growth rate of 79.6%.

According to the study — titled “The Economic Impact of Airbnb in Malaysia”, the spillover impact had benefitted retailers, restaurateurs and other local tourism players.

For every RM100 spent by Airbnb tourists outside their accommodation, RM49 went to shopping, activities and other related items while RM24 were spent on restaurants.

The report added that 63% of the guests staying in the 66,000 Airbnb listings in Malaysia last year were domestic visitors, as opposed to 43% in 2015.

Although the largest share of spending occurred in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, the report reinforced that Airbnb also spread the benefits of the tourism sector in other states.

It said areas such as Johor and Sabah have seen their share of contribution to national GDP more than double from 2015 to 2019, from 4.0% to 9.3% and 4.9% to 10.7%, respectively.

Oxford Economics’ director of economic consulting in Asia, James Lambert said Airbnb could play an important role in supporting the earlier recovery of domestic travel by helping households, particularly those who seek to substitute an international trip with a domestic one, discover new areas in their own country to visit.

“In this new environment, Airbnb may be able to play an important role in providing accommodation solutions to under-supplied or otherwise dislocated markets,” Lambert said.

Airbnb director of public policy for Asia-Pacific (APAC) Mike Orgill (picture) said the recovery of national economies and the recovery of the Malaysian tourism industry are inextricably linked.

“This new report confirms that the Airbnb community is a proven way to grow Malaysian tourism, help local communities and create tens of thousands of local jobs.

“While this report looks back at the recent past, we believe it offers timely insights for the future as we consider whether the current regulatory framework remains relevant and fit-for-purpose. Regulations that may have worked pre-Covid-19 may not work post-Covid-19,” he said.

“At Airbnb, we are committed to working hand-in-hand with governments, tourist agencies, communities and other key local stakeholders in Malaysia to help restore travel in a responsible way, paving the way towards tourism’s much-needed recovery,” Orgill added.

Across APAC, Orgill said Airbnb’s economic contribution grew faster than broader tourism at an average as it supported a total contribution of US$22.7 billion (RM95.11 billion) to the region’s GDP in 2019.

He said the platform also played a key role in driving the growth of economic opportunities across the region, supporting a total of 925,600 jobs in APAC or 1% of APAC tourism sector total employment.