Airbn’boom – $90m to Queenstown


Guests staying at Airbnbs injected almost $90 million into the Queenstown Lakes District economy in 2017, according to a Deloitte report.

The home-sharing accommodation platform – under fire in the resort for its perceived knock-on effects on the housing market, rental market and integrity of neighbourhoods – also ”created” the equivalent of 713 full-time jobs.

A Deloitte Access Economics’ report on the effects of the San Francisco-founded company on the New Zealand economy was released yesterday afternoon.

Queenstown Lakes District, which includes Wanaka, was second only to Auckland in terms of economic benefit.

The $88.6 million is what guests spent in the resort on items other than the Airbnb accommodation itself, such as entertainment, trips and groceries. That is about three-quarters of their total spend.

Some 203,000 guests stayed in properties marketed through Airbnb, booking 198,000 nights.

Nationally, Airbnb guests contributed $660million to the economy ($781million including accommodation) and the company supported more than 6000 jobs, according to the report.

Enterprise Dunedin recently reported that $4.4million was injected into the Dunedin economy by Airbnb in the year to February 2018.

Brent Thomas, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy Australia and New Zealand, said the company is an ”economic shot in the arm” for family budgets and local communities.

”This is a landmark report that shows there are 713 people in Queenstown who have a job directly because of the Airbnb community,” Mr Thomas said.

”I think that’s really important for the ongoing and constructive conversations we’re having with mayor Boult and his team.”

Queenstown Lakes District Council has taken steps to mitigate the impact of the holiday accommodation industry on the resort, particularly on housing availability and affordability.

People can let out their homes for short-stay guests for 90 days a year. That could be reduced to 28, without resource consent.

Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Jim Boult said Airbnb was a very valuable contributor to the district.

”We have no problem with their business model,” Mr Boult said.

”We simply want Airbnb to have less impact on residents and neighbourhoods, and [want] all of those properties rented through Airbnb to comply with council bylaws.

”The other effect, of course, is it does take away houses that otherwise people could live in, and finding accommodation for the itinerant workforce is hard these days.”

The council estimates 2700 homes have been removed from the long-term rental market.

Mr Boult said the report shows Airbnb is a major player and big business.

Mr Thomas said the company understood the unique dynamics of Queenstown and that was why it was encouraged by positive discussion [with the council].

”This stuff’s not a zero-sum game. It’s about adding jobs, adding to the economy and adding to people’s lives.”

Airbnb released a global Healthy Travel Report earlier this year. It said

10% of the resort’s guests stayed in Airbnbs.

Mr Thomas said that, if done properly, Airbnb could make communities more vibrant and add to the whole flavour of a community.

”It’s about respectful, responsible tourism.”