The community marketplace, which allows residents to temporarily rent their homes, helped welcome an estimated 90,000 guests to the UAE in 2017
Online short-term leasing platform Airbnb offers better value for travellers in Dubai when compared to typical hotels, with the average price of a booked listing being 38% lower than the average rate of hotel rooms in the city, according new statistics.
The average daily rate of an Airbnb booking in Dubai is $112 (AED411), while the average hotel room rate is $181 (AED665), Bloomberg revealed in its global private lodging price index.
Speaking to Arabian Business, Hadi Moussa, general manager of Middle East and Africa (MEA) said the UAE has over 3,500 hosts and 6,700 on the platform, which helped welcome an estimated 90,000 guests from around the world last year.
“We are incredibly excited by the growth in bookings we’ve seen in Dubai and the UAE. It comes from a low initial base, as we only recently started to focus more on the region, but our efforts are already paying off,” he said, adding that the platform is working closely with Dubai Tourism to ensure sustainable growth.
In July, Dubai revealed it attracted 15 million visitors in 2017, keeping it on track to reach its goal of welcoming 20 million visitors by Expo2020.
Airbnb also offers UAE residents the chance to make extra cash, with hosts setting their own price and generally keeping 97% of what they charge for their listing, according to Moussa.
“Most use the money they earn to pay the bills and afford to live in expensive cities,” he said.
Annual host earning in 2017 averaged $2,400, with the number of nights booked for a typical listing totaling 22.
Unlike hotels, Airbnb offers visitors the chance to “live like a local” when visiting various countries through its ‘Experiences’ feature which it launched in 2016. It offers new ways to see a city beyond the usual tourist attractions.
In August, the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) partnered with the online firm to promote the UAE capital’s offerings.
DCT Abu Dhabi will use the marketplace to showcase ‘Emirati Experiences’, offering visitors a selection of 20 different tours and experiences designed and led by Emirati nationals, who will provide firsthand insights into Emirati culture, heritage and history.
The Abu Dhabi deal follows a similar agreement to promote experiences in neighbouring Dubai.
“We have a growing Airbnb host community in Dubai, and support the Emirate to attract more travellers to the region and help in the diversification of tourism. The way people travel has changed dramatically over the past ten years. Today, travellers want to live like a local and enjoy authentic experiences - something Airbnb has offered to guests right from the start,” Moussa said.
With the tourism industry in MENA expected to reach $350 billion by 2027, according to MENA Research Partners, Moussa said he particularly foresees opportunities in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, as both countries focus on diversifying their economies away from a dependence on oil.
Since its launch in 2008, Airbnb has seen more than 300 million guests welcomed into homes worldwide.