Friday 15 December 2017

Airbnb says community contributes €202 million to Irish economy

'Disruptive' sharing economy

Airbnb. Photo: Getty
Airbnb. Photo: Getty
Irish hosts have grown rapidly since 2010. Surce: Airbnb - 'The Impacts of Home Sharing in Ireland
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

A new study by Airbnb claims the hospitality website contributed €202m and 2,020 jobs to the Irish economy in a year.

'The Impacts of Home Sharing in Ireland', which the company says is the first study to look at the impacts of the Airbnb community in Ireland, follows similar studies in markets like New York, London and Madrid.

7,200 Irish hosts welcomed guests into their homes over the 12 months from October 2015 to September 2015, it found.

The typical Irish host earned €2,600 by sharing space for 46 nights.

330,000 guests used Airbnb to visit Ireland in the same period, while 213,000 Irish residents used Airbnb "to explore the world", the company says.

“Airbnb shows how quickly the sharing economy is changing the traditional economy,” said economist David McWilliams, who collaborated on the study.

“It is a disruptive trend that will change how, why, where and when we travel, which will have profound effects on the economy in the years ahead.” 

Airbnb is a community marketplace on which people list and rent accommodation. It operates in over 34,000 cities and 190 countries worldwide.

Irish host growth since 2010. Source: Airbnb - 'The Impacts of Home Sharing in Ireland
Irish host growth since 2010. Source: Airbnb - 'The Impacts of Home Sharing in Ireland

Irish listings have more than doubled since 2010, the company says, and now span more than 500 cities, towns and villages in all counties.

Irish hosts got a jolt this year when they learned that short-term accommodation rentals were not eligible for tax relief under the rent-a-room scheme.

However, Airbnb says 60pc of those surveyed said the additional income helped them stay in their homes, while 15pc used it to help start a business.

It has lobbied the government on updating its tax laws.

In terms of tourism, Airbnb says it attracts new visitors to Ireland who stay longer, are more likely to return, and spend an average of €561 per visitor per trip.

Traditional accommodation providers have expressed concerns at the regulation, classification and legal rights of employees in Airbnb lettings, however.

Origin of guests staying with Irish Airbnb hosts. Source: Airbnb
Origin of guests staying with Irish Airbnb hosts. Source: Airbnb

"The Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) believes that quality assurance is paramount and that all accommodation services should be regulated and classified," its President, Stephen McNally, told Travel.

"Not only do unregulated accommodation providers pose a risk in terms of health and safety, but they raise serious issues in terms of insurance cover and lack of adequate systems for redress for guests," he added.

"From an employment perspective, there is a risk that unregistered business activity in the shadow economy will result in the creation of informal jobs and undeclared work that may not comply with the many statutes that protect employees in Ireland."

Airbnb replied that problems for hosts and guests are "extremely rare".

The community recorded 17 million guests this summer, it says, but just 300 calls were logged as "urgent situations" by its Trust & Safety team.

Airbnb "empowers regular Irish people to use their homes - typically their greatest expense - to make a little extra money to pay they bills," said a spokesperson, Peter Huntingford.

"When guests stay in an Irish home listed on Airbnb, 97pc of the money spent on accommodation stays with real Irish families, in local economies and is subject to local taxes."

All hosts in Ireland are covered by Airbnb's $1 million dollar host guarantee programme, and its $1m dollar host liability insurance programme, he added.

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