New research from Oxford Economics reveals that Airbnb is an important pillar of Malaysia’s tourism industry, playing a crucial role in the industry’s contribution to GDP and employment.
The report, commissioned by Airbnb, unveils that Airbnb guests spent approximately RM7 billion in Malaysia in 2022, across areas like purchases in restaurants, retail stores, and on transportation. The platform’s activities contributed over RM5 billion to Malaysian Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and supported almost 57,000 jobs in 2022*, which accounted for approximately 4.9% of the tourism industry’s contribution to GDP in 2022*.
Airbnb guest spending has a powerful multiplier effect within local communities. A significant majority of Airbnb guest spending in Malaysia came on top of their accommodation spending, with spending on the non-accommodation category being more than six times than the Airbnb guest spending on accommodation.
The top 5 Malaysian states and territories that benefitted the most from Airbnb’s activities were Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor, Penang, and Sabah. Notably in Selangor, Airbnb guest spending grew to about RM1 billion in 2022*, up 85% compared to 2019.
The report details the contribution made by Airbnb guests to domestic tourism across the country. In 2022*, the significant majority of Airbnb guests staying in Malaysia were domestic travelers, who made up 81% of total guests in Malaysia up from 63% in 2019.
As domestic travel grew, domestic Airbnb guest spending in 2022* totaled almost RM 4 billion. This accounted for approximately 58 percent of total Airbnb guest spend in Malaysia, up from 35% in 2019.
The report also explores two profound changes in travel behaviour since the pandemic – the dispersal of tourism away from urban areas, and long-term stays driven by the emergence of flexible work arrangements.
James Lambert, Director for Economic Consulting in Asia for Oxford Economics said, Airbnb has clearly played a major role in the resilience and rejuvenation of Malaysia’s travel and tourism sector, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, “Airbnb has been at the heart of some of the trends reshaping the nation’s travel and tourism industry, including the shift in travel away from cities and towards more rural communities. There has also been an increase in demand for long-stay trips, as exemplified by the live and work anywhere phenomenon and the platform’s recent partnership with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation to attract more digital nomads.”
Amanpreet Bajaj, Airbnb’s General Manager of Southeast Asia, India, Hong Kong and Taiwan said, “Domestic travelers have been crucial to the tourism sector’s resilience over the past three years, as Malaysian guests saw opportunities in domestic travel as a substitute for international holidays. Self-drive and regional trips grew in popularity, which led to a wider dispersion of tourism spending outside traditional hotspots in Malaysia.”
“The economic contribution to both GDP and jobs driven by travel on Airbnb in Malaysia has created powerful economic ripple effects that have enabled the growth of local businesses, such as shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes which are often central to how travelers experience a destination, and created job opportunities for the locals.”
“Travel is becoming increasingly dispersed to more destinations, this helps enable a valuable economic contribution to more rural and regional areas. As Malaysia’s tourism sector continues to recover, we are committed to partnering with governments and communities to rebuild their tourism economies in a way that is equitable, inclusive, and sustainable,” he added.
 * This report presents results for the twelve month period up to and including March 2023, referred to as 2022*, which represents the first full year after the reopening of international travel. Prevailing exchange rates at the time of study were applied, using proprietary data from Oxford Economics.
Bank Negara Malaysia USD conversion rate as of 11 September 2023 is 4.677