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Airbnb can Play a ‘Critical Role’ in Thailand’s Tourism Recovery: Oxford Economics

New report by leading global firm reveals that Airbnb has emerged as a platform driving tourism across Asia-Pacific and in Thailand, contributing THB43.7 billion to GDP and supporting 113,300 local jobs

Retailers, restaurateurs and other tourism players reap the benefits of short-term rentals as Airbnb guests spent a total of THB150 billion in Thailand from 2015 to 2019

Across Asia-Pacific, Airbnb supported close to a million jobs and made a total contribution of THB703.7 billion to the region’s GDP in 2019

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 today 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,”.

James Lambert, Oxford Economics’ Director of Economic Consulting in Asia.

“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.”

Mike Orgill, Director of Public Policy, Asia-Pacific, Airbnb.

The Economic Impact of Airbnb in Thailand

The Economic Impact of Airbnb in APAC: An Independent Report by Oxford Economics demonstrates that, from 2015 to 2019, the Airbnb platform has stimulated Thailand’s tourism and economy, driving economic impact and creating opportunities for families, small businesses and communities that benefit from short-term rentals.

Airbnb’s tourism flow
 In 2019, there were 2.5 million guests that stayed with Airbnb in Thailand. This represents a 27% increase from 2018 and a whopping near 8 times increase from 2015.
 In 2019, 92% of the guests staying in the 99,000 Airbnb listings in Thailand were international visitors. Of the international guests, 63% were from Asia, marking a significant increase from 45% in 2015.

Economic impact
 Through the spending from Airbnb guests and hosts, Airbnb contributed THB43.7 billion to Thailand’s GDP in 2019, which was 5.6 times larger than THB7.8 billion in 2015. The contribution accounts for 0.25% of the country’s GDP in 2019.
 Airbnb’s share of the tourism industry’s contribution to the GDP multiplied more than three-fold from 0.3% in 2015 to 1.4% in 2019.
 In 2019, Airbnb’s business supported 113,300 employees and contributed to THB8.5 billion to wages.
 The share of employment grew from 0.3% in 2015 to 1.5% in 2019.
 The main beneficiaries include: Agricultural sector (30,500 jobs); Restaurants and accommodations (22,500 jobs); and Wholesale and retail trade (15,200 jobs).

Airbnb guest spending in Thailand
 In 2019, Airbnb guests spent THB50.7 billion in Thailand, representing 1.7% of total tourism spending in Thailand in 2019, up from 0.4% in 2015. Airbnb guest spending in Thailand between 2015 and 2019 totalled THB150 billion.
 Domestic guests accounted for 7% of total Airbnb guest spending in 2019, totalling THB3.5 billion.
 Average spending per trip: international Airbnb guests (THB20,376) vs domestic guests (THB18,076). The expenditure feeds into not only the accommodation rental fee, but also purchases from local businesses, including restaurants, retail stores, and transportation.

Income distribution to key tourism destinations
 Airbnb’s presence stimulated significant increases in many tourist areas’ contribution to Thailand’s GDP.
 Bangkok (26.6%), Chiang Mai (7.7%), Phuket (5.5%), Pattaya (3.8%), Hua Hin (1.1%).
 Across other provinces, it is Airbnb’s indirect impact that left the largest impression. Many provinces benefited significantly from the supply chain activity that supported the tourism sector.