ECONOMYNEXT – Airbnb, an online booking engine listing rooms and apartments said it had seen a 172 percent growth in listing in Sri Lanka to 8,000 properties in the 12 months to June, an official said.
Mike Orgill, director of public policy Asia Pacific at Airbnb, said usage had grown 131 percent to 82,000 to up to June, he told an economic forum in Colombo organized by Sri Lanka’s Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.
Sri Lankan themselves were not yet big users of Airbnb with only 6,000 guests, he said. But growth was 200 percent over the past year.
Homeowners can list extra bedrooms or houses on Airbnb.
Airbnb customers on stay twice as long as an average tourist in a country and also spend more money, Orgill said.
Airbnb and other lower-end hotels bring a larger cross section of the world’s population closer together than top-end hotels, analysts say.
Budget travellers also use the same facilities as ordinary people, including restaurants and taxis, improving incomes of the small and medium sector.
Orgill said he was staying at a room in a house listed in Airbnb in Sri Lanka.
“She is using the income from the room to contribute to a charity, which is kind of cool.”
Sri Lanka is now bringing tighter regulations to force small start-ups to register with the state tourism authority and get a ‘star’ classification and pay it annual fees.
Officials, however, deny that it is a move to strangle the sector which is giving larger properties a run for their money.
Most booking engines have developed complex algorithms based on reviews, which are giving greater value to users. Without booking engines, Sri Lanka would not be seeing the level of arrivals that it has, some analysts say. East Asia’s tourism boom was also helped by booking engines, such as Asiarooms (which folded last year) and what became Agoda.com, founded by expats living in Thailand. (Colombo/Aug02/2016)