Travel beyond big cities is on the rise, with off-the-beaten-track destinations surging in popularity on Airbnb faster than in typical urban tourism hotspots. In Malaysia, Airbnb’s host community in Sabah and Sarawak collectively earned approximately RM1.4 million (US$346,100) in the span of less than a week, hosting nearly 6,800 guests in total.
This was in conjunction with the Rainforest World Music Festival held in July 2019 in Kuching, Sarawak, which saw just over 1,500 guests leading to host earnings of almost RM265,000 (US$63,780); and the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival in August 2019, where more than 5,000 guests brought in host earnings of nearly RM1.2 million (US$282,323).
“As the world’s largest community-driven hospitality platform, Airbnb is committed to working with local governments and tourism organisations to offer a sustainable solution, helping towns and cities benefit from the influx of tourism around big events without having to invest in additional infrastructure,” said Mich Goh, Head of Public Policy for Airbnb in Southeast Asia. “In preparation for Visit Malaysia 2020, we are looking to continue making travel to emerging destinations more accessible, and empowering local hospitality entrepreneurs to share their spaces and passions with guests around the world.”
Beyond big cities: Spotlighting off-the-beaten track destinations
Powered by travellers increasingly seeking more local, unique and authentic experiences, the number of Airbnb guest arrivals visiting off-the-beaten path destinations in Malaysia grew by 98% year-on-year in 2018. Some areas with the fastest growth included:
- Sibu, Sarawak - 290%
- Semporna, Sabah - 290%
- Alor Setar, Kedah - 214%
- Tanjung Tokong, Penang - 177%
By helping spread tourism across Malaysia, Airbnb is bringing the economic benefits of tourism to local communities that haven’t shared these benefits in the past. With up to 97 percent of the listing price going directly to Airbnb hospitality entrepreneurs and almost 50 percent of guests’ spending occurring within the neighborhoods where they stay, the financial benefits of tourism can be significant for travel destinations.
“Recently, we saw the launch of Malaysia’s first Airbnb Home Sharing Club by the host community in Kuala Lumpur, which allows hosts to come together to share advice and best practices, connect with other passionate hosts, support volunteer activity and advocate for fair home sharing laws. There is a growing Airbnb community in Malaysia full of passionate people who care deeply about home sharing, and we hope to eventually expand the number of home sharing clubs to represent host communities nationwide,” Goh added.
In 2018, 12 million guests checked into an Airbnb listing in off-the-beaten-track destinations in APAC, an increase of 70% from 2017. There are now almost 500,000 Airbnb listings in these destinations.
In the past year, over 250,000 guests traveled with Airbnb to big events beyond big cities across Asia Pacific, bringing approximately US$24 million in host earnings to the community in these destinations during these events.