Home-sharing on the outskirts of Singapore’s tourist hotspots earns big bucks for neighbourhoods: Airbnb

With 85% of Airbnb listings in Singapore situated outside typical tourist zones, guests are able to explore local living while microentrepreneurs stand to earn supplementary income.
The Straits Times

Online home-sharing marketplace Airbnb has recently published a study which details the socio-economic impacts of the platform’s community on Singapore – particularly in neighbourhoods on the outskirts of the country’s traditional tourist districts.

According to the study released on Saturday (Jun 16), Airbnb recorded S$411 million ($304 million) in economic contribution to Singapore in 2017, with half of all guest spending having taken place in local neighbourhoods.

The study also revealed the top-performing neighbourhoods which were determined by criteria such as the number of inbound guest arrivals, median number of nights hosted and typical Airbnb host earnings.

They were: Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru; MacPherson, Geylang Serai and Kembangan-Chai Chee; and Marine Parade, Joo Chiat and Mountbatten.

The three popular neighbourhoods alone raked in S$16 million and accounted for 25%, or 87,000 of 350,000 guest arrivals last year, said Airbnb.

Taking into account that 85% of Singapore’s Airbnb listings are situated in areas outside typical tourist zones, the company said it enables guests to “explore local living and gain new authentic perspectives of Singapore”, while providing local microentrepreneurs supplemental income.

It was observed that each guest spent an average of S$74 a day in the neighbourhood they took up residence in.

East side neighbourhoods which comprise MacPherson, Geylang Serai, Kembangan-Chai Chee, Marine Parade, Joo Chiat and Mountbatten were found to amass a total of 70,000 guest arrivals and a combined host payout amounting to S$12 million in 2017.

Airbnb hosts in these areas rented out their abodes for an average of 62 to 74 nights and earned roughly S$5,700 to S$6,800 that year.

Further down the south of Singapore, Tanjong Pagar and Tiong Bahru received 17,000 guests and collected S$4 million in host payouts last year. Hosts from these neighbourhoods earned S$4,600 despite leasing their homes an average of 16 nights – far fewer than their east side counterparts.

Statistics from the study also uncovered the appeal of Airbnb for work-related activities, with almost 13,000 companies globally having used the platform for business travel to the Asia-Pacific region, including Singapore, Japan and Australia.

Employees from over 3,000 companies were shown to have an Airbnb business travel account in Singapore and would stay an average of 7.9 nights – longer than a full business week – due to extensions of their work trips to explore the city. Such a move would consequently drive footfall to local businesses and spur local spending, according to Airbnb.

In April 2018, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) proposed a regulatory framework for the use of private residential properties as short-term accommodation.

Under the framework, an annual 90-day rental cap would be granted to home owners, who hold 80% of share value, if they agree to the change in use. Rental of private residential properties for less than three consecutive months is not currently permitted.

Airbnb’s head of public policy in Southeast Asia, Mich Goh, said: “We have carefully reviewed the URA’s proposed framework and shared our feedback through the public consultation.”

“Our community’s message is simple: Let’s keep the doors open to home sharing and the thousands of hosts and small businesses who depend on it.”