Amanda Cupples is General Manager for Northern Europe at Airbnb.
As families across the UK continue to struggle with increasing costs of living and high inflation, many have been able to turn their greatest expense – their home – into an opportunity to boost their income by hosting on Airbnb. The freedom to share your home has been a lifeline for many amidst rising costs, and is something that we must protect.
Hosts on Airbnb are ordinary people, and we’re proud to play a small part in helping them to face these economic challenges. Hosting is not something that everyone is able to do, so we called on banks and building societies earlier in 2023 to update mortgage policies that prevent homeowners from occasionally sharing a space in their home. We also made funding available to directly support Hosts – with our Sustainable Hosting Plan providing a £1 million fund for energy efficiency improvements that help cut carbon emissions and bills.
As more people turn to hosting on Airbnb to help them through this crisis, we have long advocated for regulation of this activity – carrying out research in 2021 alongside BritainThinks and Professor Marina Novelli to design a Host register to give communities the information they need to properly regulate home sharing. We welcomed Government proposals for a register in 2022, and in 2023 we set out our vision for a robust system that includes occupancy data sharing by booking intermediaries and operators. It is important that we seize this opportunity to establish modern rules for short term lets.
In crafting rules that work, it’s important to also reflect on the significant benefits that STLs bring to communities. Travel on Airbnb generates millions for England’s economy. In 2019 alone, research by Oxford Economics estimated that spending by Airbnb guests supported 22,500 jobs in London, 1,000 in Bristol and Brighton, and 5,000 across the south west in Devon and Cornwall.
Significantly, the money spent by guests stays in the communities they visit, creating real economic benefits for local people. Airbnb has also long encouraged guests to explore lesser trodden paths to help address the challenges of overtourism and drive the dispersal of these valuable tourism revenues – like our collaboration with Visit Scotland last year to highlight the Scottish Lowlands as a must-visit destination.
In addition to the clear economic benefits of driving tourism to local communities, home sharing has also helped cities cope with the influx of visitors for major events. International travellers flocked to Glasgow for COP26 and Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games, arriving in larger numbers than traditional accommodation offerings could accommodate. To help welcome these visitors, the Airbnb Host community stepped up, opening their homes so that many more were able to visit and make the most of these important occasions.
We were proud to partner with Glasgow and Birmingham City Councils, and we did the same for Eurovision in Liverpool earlier this year, allowing more people to experience the events and helping to boost the income of local Hosts and businesses.
As well as being a critical time for the British economy, this is also a critical moment of reform for the tourism industry – and it’s important to get it right. We must build a robust system to gather the right data to allow local communities to tackle issues with STLs, but without compromising that important freedom to share your home as you choose – a freedom from which Hosts, guests and the communities that depend on them all benefit.
For more information, visit www.airbnb.com/simpletruths.
Case Study: Catherine, Superhost on Airbnb
Catherine began hosting on Airbnb years ago when she needed extra money after her roommate moved out of their flat in Inverness. So when she settled in Edinburgh, she converted her loft into her own space, and listed two bedrooms for guests.
“Without Airbnb, I would lose an important source of income and that would impact me massively. I don’t know what I would do going forward.”
Passionate about the environment and hosting more sustainably, Catherine jumped at the chance to apply to the Sustainable Hosting Plan and make improvements to her home.
“I’m absolutely delighted that I’m going to have much more energy-efficient windows, and I’m sure this is going to save me a bit of money on my heating bills in the long run.”