Edinburgh economy gets £320m boost from Airbnb

Edinburgh’s economy received a £320 million boost from Airbnb visitors in 2018 as it claimed the title of the website’s most popular Scottish destination, according to new figures.

Airbnb hosts in Scotland collectively earnt 162m from lettings in 2018. Picture: Louise Fairbairn

The home sharing platform reported that the capital topped the rankings for its most visited destination in Scotland last year, and scooped second place in its UK-wide list.

Guest spending in Edinburgh accounted for more than three quarters (£244m) of the total £320m generated in the city, with visitors who booked through Airbnb spending an average of £101 per day on activities such as sightseeing, shopping, travel and food and drink.

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Glasgow followed Edinburgh as the second most visited destination in Scotland and the third most popular in the UK, with London topping the nationwide list.

Airbnb revealed that host income and guest spending led to an estimated £693m direct economic impact for the overall Scottish economy. Of this, guest spend accounted for more than three quarters (£531m), while Airbnb hosts collectively earnt £162m from lettings.

Domestic travellers made up almost half (46 per cent) of all Airbnb guest arrivals north of the Border, followed by tourists from the US, France and Germany.

The update from the home sharing site comes amid concerns over the effect increases in short-term lettings are having on local communities.

Hadi Moussa, Airbnb country manager for UK and northern Europe, said: “Airbnb has transformed the way people travel, helping visitors to explore beyond the traditional destinations and hotspots.

“Tourism plays an important role in the Edinburgh economy, and the Airbnb community of hosts and guests are helping to spread the benefits of this tourism, enabling travellers to live like locals and putting money in the pockets of local families, businesses and communities.”

Malcolm Roughead, chief executive of VisitScotland, added: “Tourism today is all about consumer choice and we are lucky to have a range of options from the five star experience to now, the spare bedroom.

“Airbnb is part of a suite of choices the consumer has when visiting a country and there’s no doubt it is helping to grow the visitor economy through innovative new approaches to tourism.”

This follows news last month that Edinburgh’s short-term lets are to be subjected to “control zones”, where planning permission would be required, in an attempt to curb the number of holiday properties in the city centre.

A report from the Chartered Institute of Housing revealed that “there were over 12,000 registered Airbnb properties in Edinburgh in 2018” – a rise of around 3,000 within the space of a year.

Edinburgh Southern Scottish Labour MSP Daniel Johnson said: “In my constituency alone, 1,810 addresses out of a total of 35,443 are registered with Airbnb – that is 5 per cent of all dwellings in my constituency.

“That has had a huge impact on the city and it is why citizens in Edinburgh say that we are increasingly experiencing a Disneylandification of the city. It is changing the nature and affordability of living in Edinburgh.”