Finance

Airbnb users couldn’t be further from cash-strapped hippies: BIS Shrapnel estimates $214 million in economic activity generated by home-share service

Myriam Robin /

It’s been just over a year since Airbnb first started operating in Australia, and already it has generated $214 million in economic activity throughout Sydney from 30,480 guests, according to a BIS Shrapnel study released today.

The economic forecaster teamed up with Airbnb to scrutinise the impact of a year’s worth of visitors to Sydney.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that connects people who have a spare room or empty house with those seeking a place to stay. One of the surprising things to come out of the study was that tourists who used Airbnb were far from cheap students unable to afford the standard hotel rate.

Instead, people who used Airbnb, an online marketplace that lets homeowners ‘rent out’ their room for a few nights to tourists, tended to be affluent, with 77% holding a university qualification and 75% coming from another country.

They weren’t young either. The average age of Airbnb users was 42, and 42% were visiting Sydney for the first time.

One of the effects of Airbnb’s growth has been a large tourist spend outside the areas where it’s traditionally goes to.

Four in five stayed outside the local tourist areas, and 98% of hosts suggested their guests visit local cafes, restaurants, bars and shops.

“Airbnb is helping more people see Sydney in a whole new light, by visiting new suburbs they may have never seen before,” Airbnb Asia-Pacific Regional Director Ole Ruch said.

This is driving the tourist dollar to places it doesn’t traditionally go, an effect that’s strengthened by the high spend of the average Airbnb user.

According to BIS Shrapnel, Airbnb guests spend, on average, $1822 over the course of their trip, compared to the average tourist spend of $1071.

The major winners from Airbnb, apart from the hosts, were cafes, restaurants and bars, BIS Shrapnel economist Kurt Lemke told SmartCompany.

“Almost 30% of every dollar spent went towards those sorts of businesses.

“Following that, retail was the second largest winner – gaining a quarter of the total spend.”

Overall, the percentage of visitors to Sydney using Airbnb was very, very small. But comparing to other major cities that have had Airbnb for a number of years, such as Paris, the economic impact was far larger.

“The economic impact of Airbnb in Paris was ten-fold that of Sydney, and Sydney’s twice the size of Paris,” Lemke said. “We’re operating from a very low base here. There’s still a lot of room to grow.”

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Myriam Robin

Myriam Robin is a reporter for SmartCompany and its sister site LeadingCompany. She has degrees in economics, international studies and journalism. She likes writing about businesses taking risks and doing new things.

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