Airbnb Can Play a ‘Critical Role’ in Malaysia’s Tourism Recovery: Oxford Economics

Kuala Lumpur – As Airbnb stands ready to work closely with governments to help local communities rebound in a post-COVID world, new research from Oxford Economics indicates the platform’s community will play a key role in supporting Malaysia’s long-term recovery by unlocking economic opportunities and creating local jobs.


Oxford Economics’ report, The Economic Impact of Airbnb in Malaysia, explores the total economic impact of Airbnb nationwide between 2015 and 2019. Commissioned by Airbnb, the landmark report found that Airbnb is now a key pillar of the local tourism industry, contributing as much as RM3.98 billion to GDP and supporting 52,100 local jobs as of 2019[1].


Short-Term Rentals Drive Economic Opportunities and Growth

The report found that prior to the COVID-19 crisis, Airbnb had already been creating opportunities for families, small businesses and communities that benefit from short-term rental accommodation across Malaysia and the Asia-Pacific region.


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 RM11.8 billion, growing at an annual rate of 79.6% in Malaysia. For every RM100 spent by Airbnb tourists outside their accommodation spend, approximately RM49 went on shopping, activities and other related items while RM24 were spent on restaurants.


While the largest share of spending occurred in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, the report reinforced that Airbnb was spreading the benefits of tourism to other communities. Areas such as Johor and Sabah have seen their share of contribution to national GDP more than double from 2015 to 2019, from 4.0% to 9.3% and 4.9% to 10.7%, respectively.


“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, said James Lambert, Oxford Economics’ Director of Economic Consulting in Asia. “In this new environment, Airbnb may be able to play 52,100 jobs supported by Airbnb business in Malaysia through direct, indirect, and induced impacts.

an important role in providing accommodation solutions to under-supplied or otherwise dislocated markets.”


In 2019, much of Airbnb’s growth in Malaysia is powered by Malaysians with 63% of the guests staying in the 66,000 Airbnb listings in the country, as opposed to 43% in 2015. This continues to be in line with domestic tourism being a key driver of the sector, as domestic tourists represented around half of the country’s tourism economy in 2019. This upward trend is in line with the recent surge in domestic travel bookings in Malaysia following the lifting of travel restrictions around the country during the current Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).


“The recovery of national economies and the recovery of the Malaysian tourism industry are inextricably linked. This new report confirms that the Airbnb community is a proven way to grow Malaysian 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. Regulations 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 Malaysia to help restore travel in a responsible way, paving the way towards tourism’s much-needed recovery.”


Across Asia-Pacific (APAC), Airbnb’s economic contribution grew faster than broader tourism at an average as it supported a total contribution of USD $22.7 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.