Bangkok, THAILAND - As a platform contributing as much as THB43.7 billion to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supporting 113,300 local jobs in 2019, Airbnb could play a ‘critical role’ as the tourism industry gears up for recovery in Thailand, according to a landmark report released by Oxford Economics.
The Economic Impact of Airbnb in Thailand report explored the total economic impact of Airbnb nationwide between 2015 and 2019, highlighting how Airbnb’s local, authentic travel serves as a valuable tool to help tourism recover and become more resilient.
Short-term rentals drive economic opportunities and growth
Commissioned by Airbnb, the report found that prior to COVID-19, Airbnb had become a key pillar of Thailand’s tourism industry, driving economic impact and creating opportunities for families, small businesses and communities that benefit from short-term rentals.
The report also highlighted the positive impact of Airbnb guest spending on local communities as Airbnb spreads the benefits of tourism. Between 2015 and 2019, Airbnb guests spent a total of THB150 billion in Thailand, growing at an annual rate of 54.8%. In 2019, Airbnb guests spent over THB19.6 billion in local restaurants and shops, and for every THB1,000 spent on Airbnb, a further THB420 was spent with local businesses.
The report reinforced that Airbnb was spreading the benefits of tourism to communities off-the-beaten track, with more than nine percent of guest spending incurred outside key cities in 2019.
Domestic and international travel trends
Across its 99,000 listings, Airbnb welcomed 2.5 million guests to Thailand in 2019, a 27% y-o-y increase and an almost 8-fold increase from 2015. Showing an appetite for varied accommodation choice by travellers, average spend per trip was THB20,376 and THB18,076 for international and domestic guests accordingly.
With APAC countries dominating global travel, Airbnb’s largest inbound market for Thailand in 2019 was Mainland China with a 38% market share, followed by the United States (11%), Hong Kong SAR (5%), South Korea (4%) and Singapore (4%).
Across Asia-Pacific (APAC), Airbnb’s economic contribution grew faster than the broader tourism average as it supported a total contribution of THB703.7 billion to the region’s GDP in 2019. 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.
James Lambert, Oxford Economics’ Director of Economic Consulting in Asia, said “Airbnb is well placed to play an important role in bringing tourists, and their spending, back to destination economies. 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. Specifically, Airbnb can inspire domestic travel in areas outside tourist hotspot locations by offering unique listings and experiences across regional markets.”
Mr Lambert said Airbnb’s characteristics of “resilience, flexibility and affordability” meant that it is “well positioned to help accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector”. “In this new environment, Airbnb may be able to play an important role in providing accommodation solutions to under-supplied or otherwise dislocated markets,” Mr Lambert said.
“The recovery of national economies and the recovery of the Thai tourism industry are inextricably linked. This new report confirms that the Airbnb community is a proven way to grow Thai tourism, help local communities and create tens of thousands of local jobs,” said Mike Orgill, Director of Public Policy, Asia-Pacific, Airbnb. “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. Regulation that may have worked pre-COVID may not work post-COVID. At Airbnb, we are committed to working hand in hand with governments, tourist agencies, communities and other key local stakeholders in Thailand to help restore travel in a responsible way, paving the way towards tourism’s much-needed recovery.”