SCOTLAND’S economy received a £693m million boost from Airbnb visitors in 2018 with the Isle of Skye amongst the biggest gainers.

A new analysis reveals that the largest island in the Inner Hebrides archipelago figures not once, but twice in the top ten Airbnb list of guest arrival numbers in 2018.

Airbnb says guest spending in Scottish neighbourhoods and communities accounted for more than three quarters (£531 million) of the total figure generated for the nation.

Guests spent on average £100 per day on activities like cultural experiences, sightseeing, shopping, travel and food and drink.

Edinburgh, followed by Glasgow were the top destinations in 2018 in terms of estimated guest arrival numbers.

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But the Isle of Skye, outside of its capital town, was the fourth most popular for guests, while the island’s largest community Portree is eighth.


The Airbnb analysis also suggested that domestic travel made up 46% of all Airbnb guest arrivals in Scotland and that the majority of overseas visitors to Scotland arrived from the USA, France and Germany People who shared their houses or flats on Airbnb also enjoyed a boost to their income, collectively earning over £162 million in the past year.

Kate Forbes, the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch issued a cautionary note, in the wake of Scottish Government-backed examination of the direct effects of short-term lets on communities, neighbourhoods and housing supply across Scotland.

The Chartered Institute of Housing warned in April that whilst the rapid growth of short-term lets such as Airbnb has been a boon to tourists and landlords, it could lead to the loss of private rented homes to the short-term lets market and displacement of long-term residents from their communities if left unregulated.

The UK Housing Review 2019 reveals Edinburgh has over 10,000 short-term lets, with its city centre ward alone having two Airbnb lets for every 13 homes, while the Isle of Skye in rural Scotland has one Airbnb letting for every 10 houses.


Ms Forbes said: “AirBnB is a platform which makes it easier for my constituents to bring in an income to supplement their other jobs and careers.

“Of course, tourism has seen huge growth in my constituency and that is represented in the figures for the Highlands and Islands.

“I think it is a good thing that people directly benefit from this growth and it is ploughed into the local Highland economy.

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“It has to be balanced with ensuring there is adequate housing for local people who live and work here because without employees there can be no tourism industry let alone other critical services.”

Malcolm Roughead, VisitScotland chief executive said: “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.”

Hadi Moussa, Airbnb country manager for UK and Northern Europe, added: “Tourism plays an important role in the Scottish 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.”


Across the UK, Airbnb said host income and guest spending led to £4.2 billion in estimated direct economic impact and more than $100 billion in estimated direct economic impact across 30 countries.

It said half of guests spend money they saved on accommodations in local communities.

And guests are also benefiting from landlords’ knowledge of the local area, with 84% of hosts saying they recommend restaurants and cafes to guests and 69% offering their knowledge on cultural activities such as museums, festivals and historical sites.

The Chartered Institute of Housing’s e analysis said that the concentration of short-term lets in particular locations across the country that the rise of Airbnb had been a highly localised phenomenon. It had created ‘globalhoods’ - ultra-desirable neighbourhoods drawing in visitors from across the globe at an ever-increasing rate.

The institute says there would be cause for concern if these properties have moved from the private rented sector to the short-term lettings sector for part of each year, and even greater cause for concern if they were now permanent short-term lets, unavailable to locals.

It warned the possible impacts of the growth in short-term lets included potential non-compliance by hosts with existing regulations, such as insurance, fire safety and planning permission.

It warned of prolonged loss of communal spaces, conveniences and facilities, saying it is not just homes, but entire neighbourhoods, that are being shared.

And it warned of the impact on local housing markets with respect to rising rents and increased property values, especially in quite tightly bounded local areas, such as Edinburgh’s New Town.