Allow Airbnb to help cash-strapped S’poreans?


Will allowing Airbnb help many cash-strapped Singaporeans?

I refer to the article “Airbnb hosts who made illegal home rentals earned at least $19,000 over 5 weeks” (Straits Times, Feb 27).

In this connection, according to the article “New Study: Airbnb Community Contributes €3.4b to Italian Economy” (May 11, 2016) – “a new report highlighting the positive economic impact of Airbnb in Italy. It shows that the Airbnb community has contributed €3.4b in total economic activity to the national economy in one year, supported almost 100,000 jobs and helped regular people to stay in their homes and afford basic living costs. Read the entire report here. This is the first study to look at the impacts of the Airbnb community in Italy, and comes after similar studies across the world, including France, New York, London, Japan and Madrid. It was conducted in collaboration with Antonio Preiti, Director General of Sociometrica, and looked at all travel to Italy during the one year-period from January 2015 to January 2016.

Airbnb attracts new visitors to Italy and spreads benefits to more families, communities and local businesses.

The study found that Airbnb hosts are regular people who share their homes and use the money they earn to stay in their homes and pay the bills. Hosts are attracting new visitors to Italy who stay longer, spend more and are more likely to return, and spread economic benefits to communities and local businesses that haven’t previously benefited from tourism. “Airbnb is good news for everyone in Italy,” said Matteo Stifanelli, Airbnb Country Manager for Italy. “It helps grow and diversify much needed sustainable tourism to the country, spreads benefits to new communities and local businesses, in neighbourhoods away from the city centre, and is a lifeline for thousands of Italian residents, helping them stay in their homes and support their families. We want to work with everyone in Italy on progressive measures to harness the positive impacts of home sharing and support Italian residents who share their homes to help make ends meet.” Some highlights of the report include:

  • The Airbnb community has contributed €3.4b in total economic activity to the Italian economy in one year, and supported 98,400 jobs.
  • Airbnb is growing and diversifying tourism in Italy; 3.6m guests have used Airbnb to visit Italy in the past year, and 1.34m Italian residents have used Airbnb to explore the world.
  • In the past year, 83,300 Italian hosts welcomed guests into their homes. The typical host earned €2,300 a year by sharing their space for 26 nights a year.
  • Airbnb is an economic lifeline for hosts; almost half of hosts’ income is at or below Italy’s median household income (€22,200).
  • 87 percent of hosts have just one or two listings, and are active community members having lived in their hometown for an average of 32 years.
  • Airbnb helps democratise the benefits of tourism, giving an economic boost to regular people, businesses and the local community. Hosts in Italy earned a combined €394m in the last year welcoming guests into their homes, whilst guests spent €2.13b at local businesses.
  • Airbnb attracts new visitors to Italy who stay for longer and are more likely to return. Almost 80 percent of guests said their experience on Airbnb made them more likely to return, whilst the average length stayed on Airbnb was 3.6 nights, compared to 3.0 for traditional accommodations.
  • Airbnb guests want authentic travel experiences, away from the tourist hot spots; 87 percent want to live like a local.
  • “We should consider allowing short-term rentals like Airbnb in Singapore, as it may help to alleviate some of the financial stress that many Singaporeans may be suffering, as indicated by the following statistics:-
  • … “Lower-income’s (20th percentile) real pay up $2.80 a year, last 15 years?” (Feb 21)

… many Singaporeans are down-grading to shorter least HDB flats which have no resale value (“HDB: Short-lease data shows flats “not affordable”?“, Feb 25)

… “32,000 out of 405,000 HDB households in mortgage arrears of over three months” (not including HDB flats on bank loans) (Feb 22)

… “one in four freelancers falls behind on Medisave contributions, despite the risk of penalties”

… “587,200 lower-income workers ( take-home disposable income less than $1,600) worry about GST hike?

Leong Sze Hian

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.