Economic Impact of the Short Term Rental Market

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The Short-Term Rental market plays an important role in supporting tourism in Australia, by facilitating accommodation bookings and advertising Australian destinations to consumers around the world. According to a report prepared by Deloitte Access Economics around 235,900 stays were booked with Airbnb in 2015-16 in Victoria, with Airbnb hosts accommodating 651,600 guests for over 1.1 million nights in Melbourne and regional towns across the state. Airbnb has grown rapidly in Australia since its launch in 2012, with its innovative market offering allowing ordinary people to host tourists from around the world. According to Airbnb, over 80 per cent of Airbnb hosts across Australia share the homes in which they live.

The Deloitte Access Economics analysis is based on the tourism expenditure of Airbnb’s guests in Australia. Airbnb guests spent over $625 million in Victoria in 2015-16, based on Airbnb bookings and survey data from Airbnb and Tourism Research Australia. This includes the amount paid to Airbnb hosts for accommodation, as well as expenditure on items like food, drinks and entertainment, but excluding fees charged by Airbnb.

The economic contribution study is based on Input-Output (IO) modelling techniques. The analysis found that the total economic contribution is on average 1.4 times the direct contribution in Victoria. It is estimated that Airbnb guest expenditure is associated with $413 million in value add to the Victorian economy, and supports 4,084 full time equivalent (FTE) jobs across the state. This includes $343.4 million in value add and 3,467 FTE jobs in the regional Melbourne economy, and $69.1 million in value add and 617 jobs in the rest of the state.

At the state level, Airbnb generally supports a number of policy goals, including those related to the Victorian Visitor Economy Strategy. Supported priorities include building on the potential of regional and rural Victoria and maximising the benefits of events, as well as the broader aspirations to develop better experiences for visitors and to increase visitor expenditure across the state.

Platforms like Airbnb increase the supply of guest accommodation in volume and variety terms, so they can both drive growth of the tourism industry and increase competition. There may be costs and impacts for existing operators, but consumers stand to gain.

One of the key non-price differences of Airbnb is location – three-quarters of Airbnb properties in major markets around the world are located outside traditional tourist areas. Other features include bringing people together from other states or countries, home-like facilities in accommodation. The non-price benefits are estimated to be worth the equivalent of almost $50 million in 2015-16 for guests staying in Sydney alone.